Business Research Method: Contrast Theory Essay


Discuss about the Business Research Method for Contrast Theory.



The base of satisfaction exists in mankind’s abilities of learning from their previous experiences. A number of theories have been made use of for understanding the procedure through which satisfaction judgments is formed by customers. Over the years of research, authors and researchers have used or many forms of comparison to define and model satisfaction. Some of the most advanced theoretical approaches include assimilation theory, negativity theory, contrast theory and assimilation-contrast theory. Among these, the most commonly discussed is the assimilation theory. The theory was originally extracted from Kurt Lewin’s theory of cognitive dissonance, which later was developed and refined by Festinger. Dissonance theory is the basis of assimilation theory (Oliver 2014).


Summary of the Theory and Progression in the Field

The dissonance theory sets that the clients of a specific product make some sort of cognitive correlation between expectations about the product and the apparent product performance. In the event that there is a disparity amongst expectations and saw product performance then dissonance or negative disconfirmation emerges. This perspective of the shopper "post-usage evaluation" was brought into the satisfaction literature as assimilation theory (Festinger 1962). Consumers have the option of reducing the tension that results from any discrepancy amongst expectations and product performance in two ways – by distorting the expectations to make them accord with perceived product performance or raise the satisfaction level by means of minimization of the relative importance of the disconfirmation experienced. If the consumers adjusts either their expectations or their perceptions regarding product performance then the dissatisfaction would not become a result of the post usage evaluation procedure. This theory has an implication that it is the responsibility of the promotional mix of a product to substantially direct expectations above product performance for obtaining a better customer evaluation or observation of the company’s product (Vivek, Beatty and Morgan 2012).


According to Wanjiku, Ombui and Iravo (2016), assimilation theory indeed comes from dissonance theory. Their discussion continues on the assessment of any discrepancy among expectations and perceived product performance, which leads to the rising of dissonance. The article also discusses about the weaknesses of the assimilation theory. The approach suggests that there is a connection between satisfaction and expectation, however, not specifying the way disconfirmation of an expectation the theory even suggest that customers have that much of inspiration among them for adjusting either their perceptions or their expectations in regards to the product performance. Controlling for actual product performance could lead to a constructive relationship between satisfaction and expectation. It would seem that dissatisfaction can never happen except the evaluative processes were to start with negative customer expectations. The main aim of this research is examining the influence of the customer service stratgeies on the customer satisfaction of the firms. Lankton and McKnight (2012) discusses assimilation theory in response to the postulation that if it is perceived by individuals that the discrepancy among expectations and performance is small enough, they would accept the disparity and assimilate their performance evaluations towards their expectations. Therefore, assimilation reduces the existing cognitive dissonance amongst expectation and performance perceptions. Assimilation theory backs the positive association amongst expectations and satisfaction as individuals react to performance with similar satisfaction levels as their expectations. The major focus of this article is to explain a lot of customer satisfaction theories in terms of their nature and development of customer satisfaction from different perspectives. Isac and Rusu (2014) opines that the assimilation theory assumes that the consumers are interested enough to modify both their product performance perception and expectations. This article focuses on the influence expectations, disconfirmation and performance have on customer satisfaction (Velte and Stawinoga 2016; Shipman 2014).

Study Limitations and its Variance

The three discussed articles are based on three types of research method – quantitative, qualitative and mixed method. All these research methods have some limitations of their own, while being included in a study. The first issues that arises in the methodology section is of the sample size. It is dictated by the type of research problem to be investigated. A too small sample size would pose difficulty in finding significant relationships from the data. It is not relevant for qualitative research. Another issue that arises is the lack of available and reliable data, which limits the scope of the analysis, sample size and finding of trend. Lack of previous literature on the same topic acts as a barrier to laying foundation for understanding the research problem being investigated. In some cases it happens that after completion of the interpretation of the findings it is found that the way the data is gathered inhibited the capability to carry out a complete analysis of the results. In such cases it is recommended that acknowledgement of the deficiency and the need for revising the specific method of data collection is provided for future researchers. Possibly, access denied or limited for access to people, organizations or documents happen in case of carrying out a research. Bias detected in prior research also acts as a barrier for proper solution of the hypothesis.

Future Research Directions

The articles discussed in previously recommended some solutions for future researchers. It has been suggested that the survey sample be not skewed towards a specific profile, and more easily generic conclusions could have drawn if a better representative sample could have been taken. Suggestions regarding change of areas and counties as also put forward as recommendation. Recommendations were given that disconfirmation operationalization can be acquired via different methods.


On summarizing the articles discussed, it can be understood that the base of comprehending customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction depends on the ability of learning from past experiences. Customer satisfaction is considered as the first conceptualizations as a singular variable that represents a sole reaction of customer evaluation, which can both be connected or not connected to the concepts of pre-evaluation.


Festinger, L., 1962. A theory of cognitive dissonance (Vol. 2). Stanford university press.

Isac, F.L. and Rusu, S., 2014. Theories Of Consumer’s Satisfaction And The Operationalization Of The Expectation Disconfirmation Paradigm. Annals-Economy Series, 2, pp.82-88.

Lankton, N.K. and McKnight, H.D., 2012. Examining two expectation disconfirmation theory models: assimilation and asymmetry effects. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13(2), p.88.

Oliver, R.L., 2014. Satisfaction: A behavioral perspective on the consumer. Routledge.

Shipman, M.D., 2014. The limitations of social research. Routledge.

Velte, P. and Stawinoga, M., 2016. Integrated reporting: the current state of empirical research, limitations and future research implications. Journal of Management Control, pp.1-46.

Vivek, S.D., Beatty, S.E. and Morgan, R.M., 2012. Customer engagement: Exploring customer relationships beyond purchase. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 20(2), pp.122-146.

Wanjiku, N.R., Ombui, K. and Iravo, M., 2016. Effects of Customer Service Strategies on Customer Satisfaction of Firms in the Telecommunication Sector in Kenya. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 5(5), pp.162-1631.

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