Understanding consumers’ relational behaviour: an integrated model of psychological contracts, trust and commitment in the context of beauty services for females
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Psychological contracts play an important role in relationships between consumers and service providers. Due to their cognitive nature, it is essential to understand how psychological contracts are created and perceived by consumers. Though psychological contracts are widely explored in the context of inter-organizational and interpersonal relationships, studies investigating psychological contracts in the context of consumer-service provider relationships have received limited academic attention. Past studies in this area of research have focused on consumers’ perceptions of different marketing strategies offered by a firm as well as individual characteristics that determine the formation of various types of psychological contracts with the firm. However, it is unknown how psychological contracts affect important marketing concepts such as satisfaction, trust, and commitment. This research, therefore, aims to advance the understanding of consumers’ relational behaviour with service providers by exploring various types of psychological contracts and incorporating them in the model as the antecedents of satisfaction, trust, and commitment. A cross-sectional survey method is proposed to address two research questions: (1) how two types of psychological contracts (i.e. transactional and relational) influence the formation of a communal psychological contract; and (2) the extent to which psychological contracts affect consumers’ satisfaction, trust, and commitment to a service provider. This study is expected to contribute to the marketing literature by exploring the nature of relationships between the customer and service-provider based on psychological contracts as the main determinant of customer satisfaction, trust and commitment. A quantitative approach is used to bridge this important gap in the literature. Data of this study were collected using the street intercept method and online survey. 305 women living in Auckland completed the survey. Hypotheses were tested by using Hayes (2013) regression based path-analytic procedure. Specifically, an ordinary least squares (OLS) criterion was used as it defines the best fitting line linking independent to dependent variables by providing a linear regression routine that derives the regression constant and regression coefficient (Hayes, 2013 ). The results of this study provide a general support of the model and show that consumers’ transactional and relational psychological contracts are associated with the formation of a communal psychological contract. Furthermore, each type of psychological contract influences consumers’ core relational outcomes in a different but certain way. A transactional psychological contract was found to have a negative effect on the formation of a communal psychological contract which in turn affected satisfaction, trust and commitment to the service provider. A relational psychological contract was found to have a positive impact on the formation of a communal psychological contract and the three core relational outcomes. Finally, a communal psychological contract was found to mediate the relationships between both types of psychological contract (i.e., transactional and relational) and consumers’ satisfaction, trust and commitment.