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What to Tell Consumers in Waits of Different Lengths: An Integrative Model of Service

Author(s): Michael K. Hui and David K. Tse
Source: Journal of Marketing, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Apr., 1996), pp. 81-90
Published by: American Marketing Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1251932
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MichaelK. Hui& DavidK.Tse

What to Tell Consumersin Waits of

Different Lengths: An Integrative
Model of Service Evaluation
The authors conduct an experimental study to examine the impact of two types of waiting information-waiting-du-
ration information and queuing information-on consumers' reactions to waits of different lengths. The authors test
a model that includes three different constructs-perceived waiting duration, acceptability of the wait, and affective
response to the wait-as mediators between waiting information and service evaluation. Results show that though
acceptability of the wait and affective response to the wait have a significant mediating effect on the relationship
between waiting information and service evaluation, perceived waiting duration does not. Moreover, neither type of
information has significant impact in the short-wait condition, whereas waiting-duration information has greater im-
pact than queuing information in the intermediate-wait condition and a smaller impact in the long-wait condition.
The authors conclude with a discussion of research and managerial implications.

W aiting time is a pivotal factor in consumers'evalu- fects, such as uncertainty reduction and cognitive reap-
ation of many services. Ample evidence has shown praisal, may also explain the impact of the informationon
that waiting has negative effects on service evalu- service evaluation. According to the uncertaintyreduction
ation (Katz, Larson,and Larson 1991; Taylor 1994). To re- explanation,informationamelioratesaffective response by
duce these negative effects, service organizationscan either reducing the uncertaintyof the wait, and according to the
provide faster service by modifying their service delivery cognitive reappraisalexplanation,informationfacilitatesthe
system (Shostack 1987) or take actions designed to reduce reinterpretationof the wait as "not too long."
the negative effects without changing the real waiting dura- The second is assessing the effectiveness of the two
tion. Among other strategies,providingwaiting-durationin- types of waiting informationin waits of different lengths.
formation, that is, informationabout the expected length of Forexample, when a delay is short,does it matterif no wait-
a wait, or queuing information,that is, a consumer's posi- ing informationis provided?Are the two types of waiting
tion in the queue with continuous updates, have been used informationequally effective in stimulatingthe various be-
widely to reduce consumer dissatisfaction with waiting havioralmechanismsin waits of differentlengths?The key
(Larson 1987; Maister 1985). question to service marketersis, What waiting information
We address three critical issues pertainingto the impact should be given to customersin waits of differentlengths?
of waiting-durationinformationand queuing informationon The third is concerned with constructsthat are implied
consumers' reactions to waiting. The first is the identifica- by the three behavioralmechanismsas being key mediators
tion of underlying behavioral mechanisms through which between the two types of waiting informationand service
the two types of waiting informationaffect service evalua- evaluation.These constructsinclude perceived waiting du-
tion. There is some evidence supportinga resource-alloca- ration (how long consumers believe they have waited), af-
tion model (Zakay and Horik 1991), which postulates that fective response to the wait, and acceptabilityof the wait.
waiting informationdistractsconsumers'attentionfrom the Testing a model that integrates these constructs provides
passage of time; hence, they perceive the length of the wait both researchersand service managerswith insights regard-
as short. However, existing literaturesuggests that other ef- ing the impactof waiting informationon service evaluation.

Michael K.Huiis LecturerinMarketing,HongKongUniversity of Science Conceptual Background

andTechnology, andAssociate Professor
Concordia Univer- We discuss three behavioral mechanisms that explain the
sity,Canada.DavidK.Tse is a professor, Departmentof Businessand
Management, CityUniversityof HongKong.Theauthorsthanktheeditor, positive impact of waiting-durationinformationand queu-
threeanonymous JMreviewers, andseminar atQueen's,
participants Vic- ing informationon service evaluation.
toria,HongKongUniversity of ScienceandTechnology,
sityofHongKong, fortheirconstructive
comments onanearlier version
of Resource-Allocation Model
Theirstudywassupported bya researchgrantfromtheSocial Fromthe customer's perspective,one key negative outcome
SciencesandHumanities Research Council
ed tothefirstauthor. of waiting is time lost. Drawingheavily from time-judgment
literature,researchershave employed perceived waiting du-

Journal of Marketing
Vol. 60 (April 1996), 81-90 Service Evaluations/ 81

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rationas the key constructin explainingconsumers'reaction acteristics of an event" (Averill 1973, p. 293). An example
to a wait (Chebat, Gelinas-Chebat, and Filiatrault 1993; of behavioralcontrol is anythingconsumerscan do to short-
Homik 1984). The longer a person believes he or she has en the real length of the wait. Decisional control is the ex-
waited, the more negatively he or she evaluates the service. tent of "choice in the selection of outcomes or goal" (Aver-
How informationcan affect perceived waiting duration ill 1973, p. 289). This refers to whether consumers can
is describedcomprehensivelyin Zakay's(1989) resource-al- choose to remain,leave, or come back laterin the hopes that
location model. According to the model, a time estimate is a the line will be shorter.In contrast, cognitive control does
functionof the numberof time units recordedby a cognitive not involve any physical change of or withdrawalfrom the
timer,which is activatedwhen a personpays attentionto the stressful situation.Cognitive control can be subdividedinto
passage of time. A given time period is often perceived as two mechanisms: informationgain and reappraisalof the
longer when a person becomes more conscious of the pas- stressfulsituation.Both informationgain and reappraisalare
sage of time. Zakay and Homik (1991) argue that a person cognitive efforts thata person can use to cope with the situ-
naturallyis occupied with the passage of time and actively ation. Informationincreases the predictabilityof a situation
engages in time estimationduringthe whole waiting period. (Averill 1973). When given any informationabout the wait,
They also argue that any stimuli that can distract the per- consumers perceive the wait as more predictableand con-
son's conscious attention from the passage of time reduces trollable and, as a result, exhibit affective responses to the
the perceived waiting duration and hence enhances his or wait that are more positive than those when no information
her service evaluation (e.g., Chebat, Gelinas-Chebat,and is provided. This is largely in accordance with the uncer-
Filiatrault 1993). Similarly, the existence of waiting-dura- tainty reductionexplanationpreviously discussed.
tion informationor queuing informationreduces the need Informationalso facilitates consumers reinterpretation
for the personto pay attentionto the passage of time him- or of the wait, that is, the cognitive-reappraisaleffect. Accord-
herself. The result is a shorter perceived waiting duration
ing to Folkman(1984), cognitive reappraisalis an effective
and, hence, a service evaluation that is more positive.
coping strategy when there is no good physical means to
Previousfindings supportthe resource-allocationmodel.
change or escape from the situation. For example, con-
When subjects were informed of the expected length of a sumersnot only reportedaffective responsesthatwere more
time period, they reportedsignificantly shorterestimates of
positive, but also considered the setting less crowded when
the period than subjects without the information(Ahmadi
they knew in advance that the store might get crowded dur-
1984). In a field study, Katz, Larson,and Larson(1991) find
that providing customers with informationabout how long ing their visit (Langerand Saegart 1977). When consumers
are captive to the wait (i.e., they are not allowed to quit or
they must wait inside a bank reduces customers' perceived leave until the service is over), any informationregardingit
wait estimates.
is likely to stimulatecognitive reappraisaland result in con-
Uncertainty Reduction sumersperceivingthe wait to be more acceptable.This reap-
praisaleffect can be illustratedby the following description
Waiting entails both economic and psychological costs from Maister's (1985, p. 118) work: "If a patient in a wait-
(Osuna 1985). Not only do consumers lose some of their
valuable asset-time-they also experience a considerable ing room is told that the doctor will be delayed thirty min-
amount of stress. A key factor behind consumers' stress is utes, he experiences an initial annoyance but then relaxes
into an acceptanceof the inevitabilityof the wait."
the uncertaintyof how long they must wait. Any information
on waiting durationcan reduce the uncertaintyof the wait In short, the resource allocation explanationfocuses on
and lower the overall level of stress experienced by con- consumers' cognitive activity, namely, the time estimate,
sumers (Osuna 1985). Findings from Taylor's (1994) study during the wait. Such time estimates affect service evalua-
tion. The uncertaintyreductionexplanationfocuses on con-
suggest that uncertainty influences service evaluation
sumers'affective responseto the wait. It conceptualizeshow
throughconsumers'affective responses to the wait. Accord-
consumers'feelings of annoyance,irritation,and so on color
ingly, the consumers' affective response (e.g., being irritat-
ed, annoyed, dissatisfied) is posited as a key mediatorof the their evaluation of the service. And finally, the cognitive
impact of waiting informationon service evaluation. reappraisalexplanationcenters on consumers'evaluationof
the wait as being acceptableor not. Althougheach of the ex-
Cognitive Reappraisal planations implies a different mediator,they are not com-
Previous researchshows that a sense of control significant- peting explanations,because multiple, not singular,behav-
ly affects human physical and psychological reactions to ioral processes can be stimulatedby the two types of wait-
stressful situations, such as crowding and waiting (Hui and ing information.As shown in Figure 1, each mechanism
Bateson 1991; Langer 1983). Personal control refers to a concentrates on one of the three components-perceived
person's need to demonstratehis or her competence, superi- waiting duration,affective response to the wait, and accept-
ority, and masteryover the environment.Averill (1973) sug- ability of the wait-of consumers'evaluative process.
gests that thereare at least threedifferentways thata person
can gain and maintain control over a situation:behavioral Length of the Wait
control, decisional control, and cognitive control. The previous discussion suggests thatboth waiting-duration
Behavioral control is the availability of "a response informationand queuing informationfavorably affect cus-
which may directly influence or modify the objective char- tomers' evaluation of the service. The next question is, Are

82 / Journalof Marketing,April1996

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An Integrative Model of Waiting Informationand Service Evaluation

the two types of informationequally effective in different H3:In the intermediate-wait

wait durations? information andqueuinginformation stimulatea signifi-
When the wait is short,with or withouteithertype of in- cantmediatingeffectof affectiveresponseto the waiton
formation,consumersarelikely to experiencelittle stressand
consider the wait acceptable.They may not be motivatedto H4:In the intermediate-wait
information andqueuinginformation stimulatea signifi-
search for or process any informationregarding the wait cantmediatingeffect of acceptability
of the waiton ser-
(Langerand Saegart 1977). The distractioneffect, uncertain- vice evaluation.
ty-reductioneffect, and cognitive-reappraisaleffect are not
stimulatedby eitherinformationtype. Thus, all mediatingef- The situationbecomes interestingwhen the wait is long.
fects due to perceived waiting duration,affective response, As far as waiting-durationinformationis concerned, it is
and acceptabilityare nonsignificant.Hence, we hypothesize, logical to expect that both the distractioneffect (perceived
waiting durationas the mediator)and the uncertainty-reduc-
H1:In the short-waitcondition,both waiting-durationinfor- tion effect (affective response to the wait as the mediator)
mationandqueuinginformation do not stimulatesignifi- continue to operate.However, when consumersare told the
cant mediatingeffectsof perceivedwaitingduration,af-
fectiveresponseto the wait,andacceptability
of the wait wait is extremely long (e.g., one hourfor a dinnertable), the
on serviceevaluation. anticipationof substantialtime lost may reduce the positive
effects of waiting-durationinformationon their reaction to
When the wait is intermediate,the effects due to both the wait (Osuna 1985). It is hardfor consumersto reinterpret
types of informationbegin to become significant. First,both an extended wait as acceptable. This implies that accept-
types of informationhelp distractconsumersfrom conscious ability may not be a significant mediator in service
awarenessof the passage of time and improve service eval- evaluation.
uation througheffects on perceived waiting duration.Sec- On the otherhand,with queuinginformation,consumers
ond, the informationreduces uncertainty,which suggests a do not have a precise estimate of the waiting duration.The
significant mediatingeffect of affective response to the wait statement,"Youare twelfth in line," may raise less concern
on service evaluation.Third,the informationfacilitatescog- over time lost thanthe statement,"Youmust wait one hour."
nitive coping, and consumers reappraisethe wait as being Queuing information may also direct consumers' attribu-
more acceptableand hence give a betterservice evaluation. tions of the wait from the service firm by indirectlyinform-
We thereforehypothesize, ing them thatthereare a large numberof concurrentusers of
H2:In the intermediate-waitcondition,bothwaiting-duration the service. Without queuing information,consumers may
informationandqueuinginformation stimulatea signifi- tend to blame the service firm when they experience a long
cantmediatingeffectof perceivedwaitingdurationon ser- wait (Bitner 1990). This implies that the cognitive reap-
vice evaluation. praisaleffect of queuing informationmay remainsignificant

Service Evaluations/ 83

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when the wait is long. This discussion can be summarized ond screen markedthe beginning of the course-registration
by the following researchhypotheses: process, in which the subject was asked to give his or her
H5:Inthe long-waitcondition,bothwaiting-duration informa- personal details, including name, student number, major,
tionandqueuinginformation stimulatea significantmedi- and programof study. In the thirdscreen, the subject typed
ating effect of perceivedwaiting durationon service in the code numbersof four differentcourses that he or she
evaluation. wanted to take. The fourth screen carried a message that
H6:Inthelong-waitcondition,bothwaiting-duration informa- "the registrationof the courses has been successful," and it
tionandqueuinginformation stimulatea significantmedi- also presented a tentative timetable for the semester. The
atingeffect of affectiveresponseto the wait on service final screen informedthe subjectthatthe process was ended
evaluation. and that he or she could leave.
H7:Inthelong-waitcondition,queuinginformation stimulates A delay of 5, 10, or 15 minutes was introducedin be-
a significantmediatingeffectof acceptability of the wait
tween the thirdand the fourthscreens, that is, after the sub-
on serviceevaluation.
H8:In the long-waitcondition,waiting-duration information ject typed in the course codes and before he or she was told
does notstimulatea significantmediating effectof accept- that the course registrationprocess was successful. During
abilityof the waiton serviceevaluation. the wait, for subjectsassigned to the no-informationcontrol
group, the computeradvised the subject that "the computer
is checking for course prerequisitesand any time conflict."
An ExperimentalStudy For the remainingsubjects,the message continuedwith the
The study employed a 3 (no-informationcontrol, waiting- statement,"Therewill be a delay of aboutX minutes"(wait-
durationinformation,and queuing information)x 3 (short ing-durationinformation),or "Youare the Yth user in line"
wait, intermediatewait, and long wait) factorialdesign. (queuing information).For the experimentalcondition for
waiting-durationinformation,the computergave X a value
Pilot Study
exactly equal to the length of the delay imposed (i.e., 5, 10,
To determinethe lengths of wait to use in the main study,a or 15 minutes). For the condition for queuing information,
pilot study was conducted.When subjects in the pilot study the initial value of Y was the same as X (e.g., for subjects
were asked to try the service (used in the main study), they who had a delay of 5 minutes,they were told initially,"You
rarelyobjected when the wait was 5 minutesor less. On the are the fifth user in line"). The computer also reduced the
other hand, most subjects expressed strong signs of disap- value of Y by one afterevery minuteof delay. For example,
proval (e.g., complaints to the experimenter)when the wait duringa 5-minutedelay, the computerchanged the message
was as long as 15 minutes.We thereforedecidedto use 5 min- to, "You are the fourth (and then third, second, and first)
utes as a shortdelay and 15 minutesas a long delay.Accord- user in line" after 1 (2, 3, and 4) minutes of delay. The up-
ing to the resultsobtainedfrom the pilot study,the two types date of a consumer's position in the queue is readily avail-
of informationwere not expected to create any significant able in most real-life situations (e.g., by moving along a
positiveeffect on subjects'reactionsto a wait of 5 minutes.In queue or the take-a-number-and-wait system).
contrast,informingsubjects that they must wait 15 minutes The software was reasonablyuser-friendly,and none of
was expected to raise their stress level, as Osuna(1985) sug- the subjectshad difficulty following the instructionsprovid-
gests. The midpointbetween the shortwait and the long wait ed by the computer.Once the course registrationwas com-
(i.e., 10 minutes)was selected as the intermediatewait. pleted, the subject filled out a questionnairethat requested
"his or her opinions about this new service." Before being
Procedure dismissed, the subject was debriefedand asked not to men-
A total of 135 students (15 in each experimentalcell) re- tion the study to anybody.
cruited at a Canadian university participatedin the study. By asking the subjects to interactwith a computerized
The sample was equally distributedbetween women (68) registrationsystem, we were able to avoid the extraneous
and men (67). The majority (68.9% or 93) of the subjects sources of variationassociated with the otherwisehigh-peo-
were 21 to 24 years of age, and they came from 19 different ple content (e.g., the mood of the server) of the service-de-
departmentsof the university. livery process (Bateson and Hui 1992). The software also
The subjects were told that they would be participating greatly improved the realism of the whole study setting
in a study testing "a new computerizedcourse registration (Lynch 1982). In general, our subjects showed a high level
service that the university was considering to offer in the of enthusiasm and involvement in the new computerized
near future."After readinga page of instructionson how to course registrationservice because of its value to them. Dur-
use this new service, each subject proceededto register for ing debriefing sessions, none of the subjects were able to
four different courses for the upcoming semester with this guess the trueobjective of the study,and a few of themeven
new service. The subject was providedwith a standardkey- asked the experimenterwhen the new service would become
boardand a monochromemonitorthat was connected to an available to students.
There was an initial screen with a message thankingthe Measures
subject for his or her participation.Based on the respondent The questionnaireincluded two different measures of the
numberthat the subject then entered, the computerput him subjects' evaluation of the new service. The first measure
or her into one of the nine experimentalconditions.The sec- (EVALI) was a question asking the respondentto express

84 / Journalof Marketing,April1996

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The Structural Equation Model


O -

O -I

I. ...... II

6(n) 6(n) 5(n

6(nZ E 32
4 5

Short-waitcondition:n = 1.
Intermediate-waitcondition:n = 2.
Long-waitcondition:n = 3.
the extent of his or her preferencefor this new service on an the respondent (ACCEPT ) (an eight-point scale ranging
eight-pointscale rangingfrom "notat all" to "extremelyso." from "notat all" to "extremelyso") and the extent to which
The second measure(EVAL2)consisted of two seven-point the respondentagreedor disagreedthatthe reportedwaiting
semantic differential items (unfavorable/favorable and time was too long (ACCEPT2) (a seven-point scale from
bad/good;a = .95) that are commonly used to measurethe "stronglyagree"to "stronglydisagree").
subjects' attitudestoward the new service (Ajzen and Fish-
bein 1980).
Two measures were concerned with the subjects' affec- Results
tive response to the wait. The first measure(AFF1) required We followed Joreskog and Sorbom's (1989, Chapter 9)
the respondentto use an eight-point scale (from "not at all" work and used a three-group(divided accordingto the real
to "extremelyso") to express how much the wait made them length of the wait experiencedby subjects;i.e., short, inter-
feel irritatedand annoyed (ao = .88). The second measure mediate, or long) structural-equationmodel to test compre-
(AFF2) consisted of four semantic differential items ex- hensively the mediating effects of perceived waiting dura-
tractedfrom Mehrabianand Russell's (1974) scale of plea- tion, affective response to the wait, and acceptabilityof the
sure (satisfied/unsatisfied, pleased/annoyed, happy/unhap- wait. Initial results indicated that acceptabilityhad no sig-
py, and bored/relaxed;a = .87). This followed Taylor and nificant direct effect on service evaluation. Instead, we
Claxton's (1994) suggestion that researchersshould use a found that acceptabilityaffects service evaluationindirectly
well-established scale to measure consumers' affective re- throughaffective response (Figure 2). This indirecteffect is
sponses to the wait. Each subject was asked to estimate the not totally unexpected, because ample evidence obtained
length of his or her wait in terms of minutes and seconds from previous satisfaction studies (e.g., Tse and Wilton
(PTIME). The questionnaire also included two measures 1988; Westbrook1980) show thatconsumers'evaluativere-
concerningthe acceptabilityof the wait to the respondent:to sponse toward an experience is an importantantecedentof
what extent the reportedwaiting durationwas acceptableto their affective state.

Service Evaluations/ 85

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Summary of LISREL Analysis Resultsa
Models Description X2 d.f. p
M-1 All parameters are 71.07 69 .409
allowed to vary across
three groups of different
wait durations
M-2 = yjj(2)
^Yij(1) j(3); 92.10 81 .187
i = 1, 2, and 3; and
j = 1 and 2

M-3 Yij(1)= ,ij(2)= -ij(3) = 0; 116.90 87 .018

i = 1, 2, and 3; and
j = 1 and 2

X2difference tests
Interaction effect: X2 = 21.03, d.f. = 12, p < .05 (M-1 versus M-2)
Informationmaineffect: X2= 24.80, d.f. = 6, p < .001 (M-2versus M-3)
aAccording to the model shown in Figure 2.

Table 2 INFO1 and INFO2 to be identical across the three groups

LISREL Estimates of M-1a (i.e., Yij(l) = Yij(2)= Yij(3),for i = 1, 2, and 3; j = 1 and 2).
This model registersa chi-squarevalue of 92.10 with 81 de-
Intermediate grees of freedom (p = .187). The chi-squaredifference test
Short Wait Wait Long Wait between M-1 and M-2 revealsa significantinteractioneffect
Parameters (n = 1) (n = 2) (n = 3)
between informationand waiting durationon the dependent
7Yii(n) .160 (.29)b 1.102(1.05) 1.853 (1.85) constructs.The overall fit of M-1, as indicated by the chi-
'Y12(n) .333 (.59) -.617 (-.59) .507 (.51) square value, is significantly better than M-2 (X2 = 21.03,
Y21(n) .043 (.17) .985(2.36) .876 (2.08) d.f. = 12, p < .05) and thereforerejects the statistical hy-
Y22(n) -.027 (-.10) .422 (1.09) .342 (.61)
.042 (.08) 1.766 (2.83) .650 (1.41) pothesis that all the -ij's are identical across the three dura-
Y31(n) tion groups. In other words, the two types of information
Y32(n) .487 (.91) 1.192 (1.91) 2.111 (4.50)
23(n) .289 (3.00) .456 (4.01) .670 (3.49) tend to have different magnitudesof impact on perceived
P41(n) -.024 (-.38) -.050 (-.99) -.105 (-1.65) waiting durationfor, affective response to, and acceptability
P42(n) .710 (4.08) .776 (5.41) .621 (4.19) of waits of differentlengths.
aForthe sake of simplicity,only the estimatedvalues of the key pa- The second alternative model (M-3) tests the signifi-
rametersare presented. cance of the informationmaineffect by specifying all the di-
bNumbersinside the parentheses are t-values of the estimates.
I t-value I > 1.64, p < .05 (two-tailedtest). rect causal effects of INFOI and INFO2 as 0 (i.e., Yij(l)=
'ij(2) = 'ij(3) = 0, for i = 1, 2, and 3; j = 1 and 2). This
model gave a chi-squarevalue of 116.90 with 87 degrees of
As shown in Figure 2, the model includes two dummy freedom (p = .018). The chi-squaredifference test between
variablesthat representedthe three informationgroups:The M-2 and M-3 was significant (X2 = 24.80, d.f. = 6, p <
first group, INFO1, was coded as a value of 1 when waiting- .001), which implies that the informationmain effect was
duration information was available, whereas the second significant (Bagozzi and Yi 1989).
group, INFO2, was coded as a value of 1 when queuing in- A summaryof the analysis is presentedin Table I and
formation was available. Because both INFO1 and INFO2 the parameterestimatesof M- I (the best of the threemodels
were categorical variables,we added a pseudovariable(i.e., tested) are reportedin Table 2.
"one")to the model and used the augmentedmomentmatrix
in LISRELanalysis (for a detailed explanationof this pro- Short-Wait Condition (H1)
cedure, see Bagozzi and Yi 1989). The short-waitcondition was designed to assess potential
When all parameterswere allowed to vary across the thresholdeffects of waiting information.In this condition,
three groups, the model (M-1) produceda chi-squarevalue when n = 1 (see Table 2), all -ys are nonsignificant.This
of 71.07 with 69 degrees of freedom (p = .409), which in- confirms that none of the three mechanismswere operating
dicates a good fit. Two alternativemodels were used to ex- under the short-waitcondition (Hi). The significant P23(1)
amine the significance of the information main effect, as (.289, t-value = 3.00) and 42(1) (.710, t-value = 4.08)
well as the interactioneffect between the time and informa- merely suggest that acceptabilityand affective responsehad
tion treatments(cf. Bagozzi and Yi 1989). The first alterna- either a direct or indirect positive effect on service
tive model (M-2) constrainedall the direct causal effects of evaluation.

86 / Journalof Marketing,April1996

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Intermediate-Wait Condition (H2-H4) ability of the wait. This resultedin a significant drop in the
In the intermediate-waitcondition (i.e., when n = 2; see effects of waiting-durationinformationon acceptabilityand
Table 2), -yl(2), Y12(2), and 34L(2)are all nonsignificant. The
affective response (the latter was partly determinedby ac-
results do not supportH2 that perceived waiting durationis ceptability) in the long-wait condition, to a level below that
a key mediator between the two types of informationand produced by queuing information (see Tables 3 and 4).
These resultsalso arecapturedby a significantinteractionof
service evaluation.
the two experimentaltreatments(waiting durationsand in-
Regardingthe influence of waiting-durationinformation formation types) on affective response (Hotelling's T2 =
on the other mediatingconstructsin the model, the parame-
ters Y21(2) (.985, t-value = 2.36), Y31(2)(1.766, t-value = .131, p < .05) and acceptability(Hotelling's T2 = .148, p <
.05). In Tables 3 and 4, the residual means (Rosnow and
2.83), 123(2) (.456, t-value = 4.01), and 342(n) (.776, t-value
= 5.41) are all significant. For queuing information, the Rosenthal 1989; Ross and Creyer 1993) reveal that the sig-
nificant interactioneffects originatefrom two sources. First,
analysis obtained significant estimates with Y32(2)(1.192, for both dependentconstructs,the two informationgroups
t-value = 1.91) and 123(n)(1.766, t-value = 2.83), but a
registered higher residual means in the intermediate-and
nonsignificant estimate with 322(2)(.422, t-value = 1.09).
The results supportH3 that affective response is a key me- long-wait conditions than in the no-informationcondition,
whereas the opposite was true in the short-waitcondition.
diating variablebetween the two types of waiting informa- Second, there were higher residual means for the waiting-
tion and service evaluation. In addition, a more positive af-
duration informationgroup than for the queuing-informa-
fective response could be partly attributedto subjects per-
tion group in the intermediate-waitcondition,but the effects
ceiving a more acceptable wait (y31(2), Y32(2),and 332(2)are were reversed in the long-wait condition. The same pattern
positively significant) with either type of information.Ac- of variationin cell means also applied to the two measures
ceptability is another key variable mediating the effects of of service evaluation (EVAL1 and EVAL2, see Table 5),
the two types of waiting informationon service evaluation.
This confirms H4. thoughthe interactioneffect was not significant(Hotelling's
T2 = .095, p >.1).
Long-Wait Condition (Hs-H8)
In the long-wait condition (i.e., when n = 3; see Table 2), Conclusions and Implications
both -y1(3) (1.853, t-value = 1.85) and 141(3)(-.105, t-value
According to Homik (1984), perceived waiting duration
= -1.65) are significant, but the sign of y/l(3) is contraryto
conventionally is recognized as a powerful construct for
that hypothesizedby the resource-allocationmodel, namely,
capturingthe economic cost of waiting, that is, the outcome
that waiting information reduces perceived waiting dura- of variation in objective waiting duration.The salience of
tion. According to the model, subjects given waiting-dura-
perceived waiting durationmay be relatedpartlyto the em-
tion informationperceive a shorterwaiting duration(hence bryonic link to time-judgmentliterature.However, our find-
11( ) should be negative). As in the intermediate-waitcon- ings suggest that perceived waiting durationis not a salient
dition, queuing informationhad no significanteffect on per- mediatorbetween the two types of waiting informationand
ceived waiting duration (Y12(3)= .507, t-value = .51). The service evaluation.
LISRELresults again do not supportthe hypothesis that the A closer examinationof the mean scores of perceived
perceived waiting durationis a key mediator between the waiting duration(Table 6) suggests the existence of an as-
two types of informationand service evaluation(Hs). similationeffect on time perception(Ahmadi 1984). Subjects
For affective response and acceptability, analysis with waiting-durationinformation(see Table 6) appearedto
showed that Y21(3) (.876, t-value = 2.08), Y32(3) (2.111, t- use the given time as an anchor;and their mean time esti-
value = 4.50), 23(3) (.670, t-value = 3.49), and P42(3) (.621, mate, when comparedwith those obtainedfromthe othertwo
t-value = 4.19) were significant, but Y22(3) (.342, t-value = informationgroups,was the closest to the real waiting dura-
.61) was not. These results, similar to those in the interme- tion. On the other hand, the no-informationsubjects tended
diate-wait condition, lend supportto H6; namely, affective to underestimatethe lengthof the wait for all threedurations
response mediates the effects of the two types of waiting in- of wait. The tendencyto underestimatewaiting durationwas
formation on service evaluation. The effect of queuing in- also found with subjects who had queuing information(in
formationon affective response could be attributedprimari- the intermediate-and long-waitconditions).These resultsin-
ly to subjects perceiving the wait as more acceptable (H7). dicate that subjectswith either waiting-durationinformation
On the other hand, Y31(3)(.650, t-value = 1.41) was non- or queuinginformationdid not perceive a shorterwaitingdu-
significant, and this supportedour hypothesis that subjects rationthansubjectswithoutthe information.In contrast,sub-
might find it difficult to reappraisethe long wait as accept- jects with waiting durationinformationappearedto reporta
able when they are given waiting-durationinformation(H8). longer perceived waiting durationthan subjects without the
information.Althoughwaiting-durationinformationleads to
Discussion a significantly longer perceived waiting duration,the infor-
The LISRELresults show that the two types of waiting in- mation has a positive effect on service evaluationthrougha
formationhad a significant impacton affective responseand more-positiveaffective responseto the wait.
acceptability in the intermediate-and long-wait conditions The effects of waiting informationare mediated by the
only. Moreover,in the long-wait condition, waiting-duration psychological cost of waiting (Osuna 1985). The results in-
informationdid not have a significant effect on the accept- dicate that affect and acceptabilityare the key mediatorsop-

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Table 3
Acceptability as a Function of Information and Wait: Mean Scores
No Waiting-duration Queuing Row
Information Information Information Mean

Shortwait 5.00 4.87 4.73 4.87
(+.83)b (-.14) (-.68)
Intermediatewait 2.53 4.73 4.33 3.87
(-.64) (+.72) (-.08)
Long wait 2.07 2.53 4.27 2.96
(-.19) (-.57) (+.77)
Columnmean 3.20 4.04 4.44 3.90c

Shortwait 4.73 4.80 5.33 4.96
(+.38)b (-.29) (-.11)
Intermediatewait 3.47 4.87 4.07 4.13
(-.05) (+.61) (-.54)
Long wait 2.07 2.80 4.13 3.00
(-.32) (-.33) (+.65)
Columnmean 3.42 4.16 4.51 4.03c
a1-8 rating.Higherscore indicatesthe wait is more acceptable. MANOVA
bNumbersin the parentheses are the residualmeans. Waiting-duration main effect: Hotelling's T2 = .271, p < .001.
cGrandmean. Information maineffect:Hotelling'sT2 = .098, p < .05.
dl-7 rating.Higherscore indicatesthe wait is more acceptable. Interactioneffect:Hotelling'sT2 = .148, p < .05.

Mean Scores of the Two Measures of Affective Response as a Function of Information and Wait

No Waiting-duration Queuing Row

Information Information Information Mean
Shortwait 6.37 6.63 6.57 6.52
(+.77)b (-.39) (-.36)
Intermediatewait 4.13 6.60 6.03 5.59
(-.54) (+.51) (+.03)
Long wait 3.57 5.10 5.47 4.71
(-.22) (-.11) (+.35)
Columnmean 4.69 6.11 6.02 5.61c
Shortwait 5.00 5.03 5.15 5.06
(+.54)b (-.38) (-.16)
Intermediatewait 3.45 5.03 4.13 4.21
(-.16) (+.47) (-.33)
Long wait 2.63 3.85 4.33 3.61
(-.38) (-.11) (+.47)
Columnmean 3.69 4.64 4.54 4.29c
a1-8 rating.Higherscore indicatesmore positiveaffectiveresponse. MANOVA Results
bNumbersin the parentheses are the residualmeans. Waiting-duration maineffect: Hotelling'sT2 = .302, p < .001.
cGrandmean. Informationmaineffect: Hotelling'sT2 = .196, p < .001.
dl-7 rating.Higherscore indicatesmore positiveaffectiveresponse. Interactioneffect:Hotelling'sT2 = .131, p < .05.

88 / Journalof Marketing,April1996

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Service Evaluation as a Function of Information and Wait: Mean Score

No Waiting-duration Queuing Row

Information Information Information Mean
Shortwait 6.40 6.73 6.27 6.47
(+.54)b (-.15) (-.39)
Intermediatewait 4.87 6.47 5.80 5.71
(-.23) (+.35) (-.10)
Long wait 4.00 5.13 5.60 4.91
(-.30) (-.19) (+.50)
Columnmean 5.09 6.11 5.89 5.70c
Shortwait 5.83 5.87 5.80 5.83
(+.44)b (-.31) (-.13)
Intermediatewait 4.77 5.97 5.10 5.28
(-.07) (+.34) (-.28)
Long wait 3.70 4.83 5.03 4.52
(-.38) (-.04) (+.41)
Columnmean 4.77 5.56 5.31 5.21c
al- rating.Higherscore indicatesmore positiveevaluation. MANOVA Results
bNumbersin the parentheses are the residualmeans. Waiting-duration maineffect:Hotelling'sT2= .237, p < .001.
cGrandmean. Information maineffect: Hotelling'sT2 = .110, p = .01.
d1-7 rating.Higherscore indicatesmore positiveevaluation. Interactioneffect: Hotelling'sT2= .095, p > .1.

Mean Scores of Perceived Waiting Durationa as a Function of Information and Wait

No Waiting-duration Queuing
Wait Information Information Information
Short 4.87 5.03 5.20
Intermediate 9.13 10.23 8.51
Long 12.18 14.03 12.69
aln minutes. ANOVAResults
Waitingdurationmaineffect:F(2,126) = 111.81,p < .001.
Information maineffect: F(2,126) = 2.38, p< .1.
Interactioneffect: F(4,126) = .83, p > .1.

erating between the two types of waiting informationand and Russell 1974) on service evaluation by contrastingthe
service evaluation. The column means in Tables 3 and 4 effects of stimulatingversus nonstimulatingmusic on con-
show that subjects reported affective responses that are sumers'reactionto waiting.
more positive and considered the wait more acceptable Our findings also provideempiricalsupportfor Osuna's
when either type of informationwas available than when no
(1985) conjecturethatwaiting-durationinformationmay not
informationwas available. These findings suggest that re- be the most effective tool to minimizeconsumerdissatisfac-
searchersmay need to look beyond perceived waiting dura-
tion with extended waits. This is importantto service man-
tion to include such variables as affective response and ac-
agers when they consider what kind of informationthey
ceptability when examining the impactof waiting on service should give their waiting customers. In short waits, no in-
evaluation (Katz, Larson,and Larson 1991).
The salience of affective response in overall service formationis needed.When the wait is intermediate,waiting-
evaluation has received some support in recent studies of duration information appears to be a better choice than
environmentaldistractions.For example, Kellaris and Kent queuing information.However,when the wait is long, wait-
(1992) suggest thatpleasantmusic reducesconsumerdissat- ing-durationinformationmay be less effective thanqueuing
isfaction with waiting because of its impact on consumers' informationin assuaging consumer dissatisfactionwith the
emotional feelings during the wait. In addition to the va- wait. Our findings indicate that knowing in advance that
lence (pleasure) dimension, researchersmay also want to there will be an extended wait may substantiallyweaken the
examine the impact of the arousal dimension (Mehrabian cognitive reappraisaleffect of waiting-durationinformation.

Service Evaluations/ 89

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An alternativesolutionsuggestedby our findings is to re- updateof a person's position in the queue, would the infor-
place waiting-durationinformationwithqueuinginformation. mationbe equally effective in amelioratingconsumers'reac-
For example, in a bank,a continuousupdateof the queue so tion to the wait? Can our results be attributedto the greater
that consumerscan have a betteridea about their position in amountof informationgiven in the queuing-information con-
the line may resultin a morepositivereactionto the wait than dition than in the waiting-durationinformationcondition?
a device that displays the expected length of the delay. This Can consumers' reactions to the wait be improved further
strategyis particularlyimportantwhen the service organiza- when both types of waiting informationare available?Fur-
tion has difficulty in accuratelyestimatingthe length of the thermore,the controlledlaboratorysettingin which this study
wait or when the line is not visible to customers(e.g., waiting was conductedmay not reflect the complexity of many ser-
for a table in a restaurantor waiting to see a physician at a vice situationsin which consumersare asked to wait. Forex-
clinic). An alternativestrategyis the installationof a take-a- ample,our subjectsarecaptiveto the wait, which may not be
number-and-waitsystem at the receptionarea. the case in many real-life situations.A high-balkingrate is
possible, because consumersmay choose to suspendthe ser-
Limitations vice encounterwhen waiting-durationinformationsuggests
It is importantto note thatour studyonly examinesthe effects thattherewill be a long wait (Katz,Larson,andLarson1991).
of queuinginformationwith continuousupdates.If thereis no

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