Disentangling the Differential Roles of Warmth and Competence Judgments in Customer-Service Provider Relationships

Baris Pascal Güntürkün, Till Haumann, Sven Mikolon

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Despite increasing interest in warmth and competence as fundamental dimensions in consumers’ evaluation of service providers, prior research remains ambiguous about which dimension is more important. The current study develops a nomological framework that clarifies this ambiguity and explains whether, when, and why warmth or competence takes precedence for different outcomes in customer-service provider relationships. Combined evidence from field and laboratory studies support the notion of an asymmetric dominance, which suggests that warmth is dominant in driving outcomes that capture relational aspects (e.g., customer-company identification), whereas competence is dominant in driving outcomes that capture transactional aspects of the customer-service provider relationship (e.g., share of wallet). The findings provide first insights into the underlying mechanisms that drive this asymmetric dominance by demonstrating that relational and capability concerns mediate this process. Moreover, the current investigation identifies novel moderators that offer managers help in identifying service contexts (people vs. object care) and customer segments (differing in process and outcome service goals) for which investing in warmth or competence is more promising. Overall, displaying competence is particular effective in driving customer attraction and current operating performance, whereas displaying warmth is better suited to establish strong emotional bonds and drive customer retention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476 - 503
JournalJournal of Service Research - JSR
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502019 Marketing
  • 501002 Applied psychology

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