Yield shift theory of satisfaction

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Yield Shift Theory of Satisfaction

Acronym

YST

Phenomenon of Interest: The Satisfaction Response

The phenomenon of interest for Yield Shift Theory is an emotion – the satisfaction response, define as a valenced affective arousal with respect to some object that has reference to some state or outcome desired by an individual. The satisfaciton response is a single construct that encompasses both positive feelings, commonly called satisfaction, and negative feelings, commonly called dissatisfaction. Under this definition, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not two ends of a continuum with a neutral point in the middle. Rather, the continuum is from not-aroused to aroused. The valence characterizes the arousal as positive or negative, but does not define its magnitude. We use this conceptualization because an individual may experience a switch of valence from negative to positive or vice versa without passing through a neutral state of non-arousal.

Definition of Key Terms

Goal: A desired state or outcome
Satisfaction response: A valenced affective arousal with respect to some object that has reference to an individual’s private goals
Utility: The benefit or value an individual subconsciously ascribes to attaining a goal
Likelihood: The degree to which an individual subconsciously believes a goal to be attainable
Yield: A multiplicative function of the utility and likelihood an individual ascribes to attaining a goal or a set of goals
Active Goal Set: The subset of goals currently being assessed by subconscious cognitive mechanisms for changes in yield.
Perceived Shift in Yield: A subconscious perception that the overall yield for the active goal set has changed.

Concise description of theory

Individuals may hold many goals, ranging from fundamental goals like drawing breath to esoteric goals like scientific discovery or self-actualization. Human cognitive resources are limited, and so cannot assess all of an individual's goals simultaneously. The set of goals currently being processed by the subconscious is called the activity goal set. Yield Shift Theory draws on five assumptions and two propositions to argue that satisfaction responses are a function of perceived shifts in yield for the active goal set. For the logic by which the propositions of Yield Shift Theory were derived, see (Briggs, Reinig, and Vreede, 2008).

Yield Shift Theory begins with the following assumptions:

Assumption 1: Automatic Utility Assessment. A cognitive mechanism automatically and subconsciously ascribes some level of utility to attaining a given active goal.
Assumption 2: Automatic Likelihood Assessment. A cognitive mechanism automatically and subconsciously assesses the likelihood that an active goal may be attained.
Assumption 3: Automatic Yield Assessment. A cognitive mechanism automatically and subconsciously generates a perception of yield for an active goal based on the utility ascribed to it, but reduced in inverse proportion to the likelihood assessed for attaining the goal.

Reasoning from Assumptions 1, 2 and 3, YST proposes that:

Proposition 1: Perceived Yield. At a given moment, the Yield an individual subconsciously perceives for a given goal is a multiplicative function of the utility ascribed to the goal and the assessed likelihood of attaining it.

Assumption 3 and Proposition 1 are closely related. Assumption 3 posits a cognitive mechanism that performs a certain function. Proposition 1 proposes a cause and effect relationship among constructs that would follow if the assumptions about the underlying mechanisms hold. Without the underlying assumptions, there would be no basis for proposing that likelihood moderates a causal relationship between Utility and Yield, nor that the posited relationship would have to be multiplicative.

Yield Shift Theory further assumes that:

Assumption 4: Yield Shift Detection. An automatic, subconscious, cognitive mechanism detects the magnitude and direction of changes in yield for the active goal set.
Assumption 5: Affective Response to Shifts in Yield. The detection of a shift in yield for the active goal set triggers an affective arousal proportional to the magnitude of the shift in yield, and with a valence in the direction of the shift.

While the magnitude of shifts in yield may be boundless, human physiological and affective responses are bounded. There may be a ceiling, therefore, on the magnitude of affective arousal an individual can experience. Thus, beyond some level of arousal, incremental increases in magnitude of yield shift would give rise to smaller and smaller increases in affective arousal. The relationship between shifts in yield perception and the magnitude of the satisfaction response would thus have to be curvilinear rather than purely linear. Therefore, YST proposes:

Proposition 2: Satisfaction Response as a Function of Yield Shift. The magnitude of the satisfaction response is a curvilinear function with a positive but decreasing slope of the absolute value of a yield shift for the active goal set. The valence of the satisfaction response is equivalent to the sign or direction of the yield shift.

Satisfaction Phenomana Explained by Yield Shift Theory

Yield Shift Theory provides explanations for many satisfaciton phenomena that manifest in the IS/IT domain. For the logic by which these effects can be explained using YST, see (Briggs, Reinig, and Vreede, 2008).

1. Goal attainment effect: Individuals feel satisfied on attainment of a desired state or outcome. They feel dissatisfied when the desired state or outcome is thwarted.
2. Confirmation effect: Individuals feel satisfied when outcomes match expectations or desires, and feel dissatisfied when outcomes are less than expectations or desires.
3. Disconfirmation effect: Individuals feel neutral when outcomes match expectations or desires. They feel satisfied when outcomes exceed expectations or desires; they feel dissatisfied when outcomes are lower than expectations or desires.
4. Anticipation effect: Individuals feel satisfied or dissatisfied when thinking of future goal attainment, even though goals have not yet been attained or thwarted.
5. Nostalgia effect: Individuals feel satisfied or dissatisfied when thinking about past goal attainment or past failure to attain goals.
6. Differential effect: Multiple individuals manifest differing levels of satisfaction upon the attainment of goals to which they ascribe similar utility.
7. Hygiene effect: Individuals feel only neutral or negative about an IT/IS artifact, but never positive.
8. Mentor effect: Individuals feel more satisfied or dissatisfied after discussions with a trusted advisor, even though current conditions have not changed.
9. Mixed Feelings: Individuals experience both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the same IS/IT artifact.
10. Attenuation effect: Individuals’ satisfaction responses diminish over time.

Originating author(s)

Robert o. Briggs, Bruce A. Reinig, and Gert-Jan de Vreede

Originating area

Information Systems and Technology

Level of analysis

Individual

Citations

Briggs, Robert O.; Reinig, Bruce A., and de Vreede, Gert-Jan. The Yield Shift Theory of Satisfaction and Its Application to the IS/IT Domain. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 9(5), pp. 267-293.

Original Contributors

Robert o. Briggs, Bruce A. Reinig, and Gert-Jan de Vreede

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