Relieving the regret for maximizers: the role of construal level across comparable and non-comparable choice sets

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Abstract

Purpose: Prior research consistently found maximizers to experience greater regret over their choice than satisficers. Moreover, research also found maximizers to be trapped in a “maximization-regret-maximization” cycle. This paper aims to assess the role of construal level theory in alleviating regret felt by maximizers.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors examine the construal level theory (CLT) in conjunction with the choice context (comparable and non-comparable choices). Three experimental studies tested our assertion that a match between CLT mindset and choice set relieves regret for maximizers.

Findings: The authors show maximizers experience similar levels of regret compared to satisficers when considering comparable options in a concrete mindset, and non-comparable options in an abstract mindset. However, maximizers experience heightened regret in comparison to satisficers when considering non-comparable (comparable) options in a concrete (abstract) mindset. Choice difficulty mediates our effect.

Research limitations/implications: Future research is needed to replicate our results in real-life settings.

Practical implications: If marketers think that their product is likely to be compared with other comparable products, they should adopt product-specific information that focusses on how the product would be used. However, if marketers think that consumers will compare across non-comparable products, then they should focus on why their product is the most suitable to fulfil consumers’ needs.

Originality/value: This research represents the first attempt at reducing regret for maximizers and answers the call for an examination of the relationship between maximization and CLT. The research adds to the maximization literature by evidencing a CLT-based strategy that attenuates the negative experience of regret for maximizers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-304
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • maximizers
  • satisficers
  • regret
  • decision difficulty
  • comparable and noncomparable choice options
  • construal level theory
  • experimentation
  • consumer choice
  • maximization

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