Expectation-confirmation theory (ECT) posits that satisfaction is determined by interplay of prior expectations and perception of delivery. As such, there are many applications in research and practice that employ an ECT model. The descriptive power allows independent investigations manipulating either of the components and a format to examine just why clients are satisfied (or not) with a particular product or service. However, the use of ECT can be impeded by a seeming lack of analysis techniques able to handle the difficulties inherent in the model, restricting information system (IS) researchers to limit the model to less descriptive and analytical accuracy. This chapter provides an overview of ECT applications in IS research and demonstrates how polynomial regression analysis (PRA) allows for a more robust set of models.
The origin of Expectation-Confirmation Theory dates back many decades. Military experts have long believed that the fulfillment of expectations lead to positive changes in morale (Spector, 1956). General models of satisfaction have considered a discrepancy between an individual standard and outcome as influential (Locke, 1969). Satisfaction with job performance is considered a function of expectation and deviation from expectation (Ilgen, 1971). In the consumer arena, experiments to test the impact of discrepancies go back to the middle of the previous century (Cardozo, 1965), though more current thought that relates the resulting satisfaction of a discrepancy to future behavior is usually pegged to later work (Oliver, 1980). In each of these, and subsequent, studies, the primary consideration is that both the expectations prior to an event and the subsequent evaluation after the event combine to determine satisfaction with the event. The event in question can be any number of items, but usually concern some kind of product, service, or performance consumption.
Figure 1 shows a basic model of Expectation Confirmation Theory. The four main constructs in the model are: expectation, performance, disconfirmation, and satisfaction. Expectations serve as the comparison anchor in ECT – what consumers use to evaluate performance and form a disconfirmation judgment (Halstead, 1999). Expectations reflect anticipation (Churchill & Suprenant, 1982). They are predictive over product attributes at some point in the future (Spreng, MacKenzie & Olshavsky, 1996). Performance is an evaluation by the individual after the event, such as a perception of product quality. If a product meets or outperforms expectations (confirmation) post-purchase satisfaction will result. If a product falls short of expectations (disconfirmation) the consumer is likely to be dissatisfied (Spreng, et al., 1996). Typically, disconfirmation is often measured directly, or as a difference score between expectation and performance components. However, the disconfirmation measure is redundant when expectations and performance are taken directly into satisfaction.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Disconfirmation: A difference between a perceived outcome, usually a collection of events or activities, as compared to an established expectation.
Confirmation: An individual’s perception of an outcome meets an established expectation.
Performance: The perceived level of achievement for an event, activity, or property that has already been conducted or delivered.
Indirect Measure: Determining a gap between two distinct concepts with two component values.
Polynomial Regression Analysis: Determining the best relationship in a specific data set between a single dependent variable and one or more independent variables that incorporates interaction and higher order terms of the independent variables.
Direct Measure: Determining a gap or fit between two distinct concepts with a single value.
Difference Score: A single value representation of two distinct instances of a single concept. The instances may be across time, individual, or situation, but each instance must be measured with identical constructs.
Expectation: A belief about the value of a future event, activity, or property rooted in the values of an individual that serve as an anchor for comparison.
Satisfaction: An individual level of approval resulting from experience of an activity, event, or property.