How does social distance impact customers' complaint intentions? A cross-cultural examination

Alei Fan, Anna S. Mattila, Xinyuan Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This study examines the impact of social distance between focal customers and other customers (in-group versus out-group) on complaint intentions in a cross-cultural (i.e., collectivist Chinese versus individualist American) context. Results from a between-subjects quasi-experiment suggest that social distance moderates complaint intentions across the two cultural groups. When dining out with their families (i.e., in the presence of in-group members), American customers (versus Chinese) are more likely to voice complaints about service failures. However, in the presence of strangers (i.e., out-group members), complaint intentions are uniformly high for both American and Chinese participants. Moreover, concern for face (CFF) is the underlying mechanism explaining customers' reactions to service failures. Specifically, when service failures are observed by strangers, CFF mediates the impact of culture on complaint intentions while the role of culture is more salient in the presence of family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Hospitality Management
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'How does social distance impact customers' complaint intentions? A cross-cultural examination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this