The effect of failure locus of causality and outcome severity on brand evaluations

Sujin Song, University of Rhode Island


Companies experience difficulty meeting consumer expectations and delivering the product benefit promised for various reasons and these failures are ever increasing. Failure has multiple dimensions such as its outcome severity and locus of causality. Failure literature has been focused on exploring the brand-oriented factors or individual characteristics of consumers that may affect post-failure responses. How dimensions of failure influence consumers' brand evaluation remains a gap in the literature. Notably, to my knowledge, no prior research has been conducted on how failure severity would influence the effect of the locus of causality on brand evaluation. Failure literature suggests that brand-caused failure would result in more adverse brand evaluation than consumer-caused failure. ^ This dissertation explores how outcome severity would influence brand-evaluation of consumers differently according to the causes of failure; brand-caused, consumer-caused, and natural disaster-caused failures. Different level of blame attribution to a brand out of the defensive attribution in severe outcome is provided as a theoretical account. Consumers are expected to be motivated to avoid blame for their failures as severity increases for consumer-caused failures. However, consumers' motivation to avoid blame for the failure will not be escalated by the function of severity when brand or natural disaster caused the failure. Therefore, brand evaluation will be lower in severe outcomes as compared to less severe outcomes when the failure is consumer-caused and it will be less influenced by severity when the failure is brand or natural disaster-caused. Two scenario-based experiments were conducted to test the main effect of the locus of causality, the moderation effect of severity, and the mediation effect of brand-blame for the interaction of severity and the locus of causality on brand-evaluation. The first study examined consumer-caused failure and brand-caused failure. The second study extended the conceptualization of the interaction effect of the locus of causality and outcome severity on brand evaluation by testing consumer-caused, brand-caused and natural disaster-caused failure.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing

Recommended Citation

Sujin Song, "The effect of failure locus of causality and outcome severity on brand evaluations" (2012). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3509766.