PurposeThis paper aims to demonstrate how and why holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of large assortments on satisfaction.Design/methodology/approachFive between-subject experiments demonstrate the mitigating role of holism on choice overload across a variety of contexts.FindingsWhile large assortments create overload feeling, holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of overload feeling on satisfaction for both chronic (Studies 1a and 1b) and decision-specific (Studies 1b and 1c) holistic thinkers, as well as those who adopt a more holistic thinking style because of the decision goal (Study 2) or incidental priming (Study 3).Research limitations/implicationsThis paper introduces a new moderator of choice overload effects – holistic thinking – and shows how it mitigates the negative indirect effect of assortment size on satisfaction. This paper contributes to the literature on assortment size effects and shows that even when assortment size increases overload feeling, this negative impact of assortment size can still be reduced.Practical implicationsMarketers with large assortments can reduce the negative impact of overload feeling and increase satisfaction by promoting the hedonic features of the products and encouraging holistic thinking. Similarly, consumers can reduce the negative impact of overload feeling by approaching their consumption more holistically either because of their individual traits or situational factors.Originality/valueThis research contributes a new moderator to the choice overload literature: holistic thinking. In doing so, it adopts a broader consideration of the decision-making process underlying overload effects and pinpoints how (i.e. by which path) holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of large assortments.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 8, 2017