Servicescape symbolism

Chou, Yun-Hsin (2012) Servicescape symbolism. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In order to drive sustainable financial profitability, service firms make significant investments in creating service environments that consumers will prefer over the environments of their competitors. To date, servicescape research is over-focused on understanding consumers’ emotional and physiological responses to servicescape attributes, rather than taking a holistic view of how consumers cognitively interpret servicescapes. This thesis argues that consumers will cognitively ascribe symbolic meanings to servicescapes and then evaluate if those meanings are congruent with their sense of Self in order to form a preference for a servicescape. Consequently, this thesis takes a Self Theory approach to servicescape symbolism to address the following broad research question:

How do ascribed symbolic meanings influence servicescape preference?

Using a three-study, mixed-method approach, this thesis investigates the symbolic meanings consumers ascribe to servicescapes and empirically tests whether the joint effects of congruence between consumer Self and the symbolic meanings ascribed to servicescapes influence consumers’ servicescape preference. First, Study One identifies the symbolic meanings ascribed to salient servicescape attributes using a combination of repertory tests and laddering techniques within 19 semi-structured individual depth interviews. Study Two modifies an existing scale to create a symbolic servicescape meaning scale in order to measure the symbolic meanings ascribed to servicescapes. Finally, Study Three utilises the Self-Congruity Model to empirically examine the joint effects of consumer Self and servicescape on consumers’ preference for servicescapes. Using polynomial regression with response surface analysis, 14 joint effect models demonstrate that both Self-Servicescape incongruity and congruity influence consumers’ preference for servicescapes. Combined, the findings of three studies suggest that the symbolic meanings ascribed to servicescapes and their (in)congruities with consumers’ sense of self can be used to predict consumers’ preferences for servicescapes. These findings have several key theoretical and practical contributions to services marketing.

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ID Code: 57199
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Lings, Ian & Greer, Dominique
Keywords: servicescape, self theory, personal construct theory, human value theory, symbolic interactionism, self-congruity model, symbolic meanings, cognition, salient servicescape attribute, values of the self, actual self, ideal self, social self, repertory tests, laddering technique, hierarchical value map, categorisation, content analysis, servicescape image, factor analysis, polynomial regression with response surface analysis, moderated polynomial regression, self-incongruence, preference, service profit chain, in-depth interview, web-based survey
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Feb 2013 03:20
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 10:56

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