The Effect of Environmental Perceptions on Behavioral Intentions Through Emotions: The Case of Upscale Restaurants

Quick research facts

It is important to recognize that the physical elements (e.g., music, aroma, temperature) of ambience can be managed to a large extent by restaurant managers. Managing ambience is probably one of the least expensive ways to enhance customer perceptions of physical environment in upscale restaurants. For instance, music is more easily controllable than other physical elements and is inexpensive as well.

The Effect of Environmental Perceptions on Behavioral Intentions Through Emotions: The Case of Upscale Restaurants

ABSTRACT

This research built a conceptual model to show how customers’ perceptions of dining environments influence behavioral intentions through emotions in the upscale restaurant setting. An environmental psychology model was proposed to explore the linkages between customers’ perceptions and emotions (pleasure and arousal) and between customers’ emotional states and behavioral intentions. A structural equation modeling analysis revealed that facility aesthetics, ambience, and employees had significant effects on the level of customer pleasure while ambience and employees significantly influenced the level of arousal. In addition, pleasure and arousal had significant impacts on behavioral intentions, and pleasure appeared to be the more influential emotion of the two. Implications for restaurateurs and academic researchers are also discussed.

RESULTS

The main goal of this study was to explored the relationships among physical environment, consumers’ emotional responses, and behavioral intentions. Ambience is the most influential factor toward customers’ pleasure and arousal.

The current study indicated that emotions evoked by the dining environment within upscale restaurants significantly affect the extent to which customers intended to come back, to recommend the restaurant to friends or others, to stay longer than anticipated, and to spend more than orig- inally planned. Thus, restaurateurs should understand how important the physi- cal environment is in generating positive emotions in restaurants.

IMPLICATIONS/LEARNINGS

How to conduct similar music research for your brand

STEP 1

HYPOTHESES 

How does restaurant customers perceive physical environments and how perception directly influences customer emotions and indirectly affects their behavioural intentions?

Hypothesis 1: Pleasure has a positive effect on behavioural intention.
Hypothesis 2: Arousal has a positive effect on behavioural intention.
Hypothesis 3a: Facility aesthetics has a positive effect on pleasure. Hypothesis 3b: Facility aesthetics has a positive effect on arousal.
Hypothesis 4a: Warm & comfortable lighting has a positive effect on pleasure.
Hypothesis 4b: Warm & comfortable lighting has a positive effect on arousal.
Hypothesis 5a: Ambience has a positive effect on pleasure.
Hypothesis 5b: Ambience has a positive effect on arousal.
Hypothesis 6a: Layout has a positive effect on pleasure.
Hypothesis 6b: Layout has a positive effect on arousal.
Hypothesis 7a: High-quality dining equip. has a positive effect on pleasure.
Hypothesis 7b
: High-quality dining equipment has a positive effect on arousal.
Hypothesis 8a: Employees have a positive effect on pleasure.
Hypothesis 8b: Employees have a positive effect on arousal.

  • Data were collected from customers at the end of their main entrée.
  • Location was three upscale restaurants in midwestern and northwestern states in the United States.
  • Respondents which average guest checks were more than U.S. $20.

STEP 2

METHODOLOGY

STEP 3

Survey/
Measurement

Questionnaire design with a 7-point Likert-type scale
(1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)

A) Customers’ perception of dining environments 

Rate each dinescape:

Facility aesthetics
– Attractive paintings and/or pictures.
Appealing wall décor.
– Beautiful plants and/or flowers. 
– Warm colors.
– High-quality furniture. 

Lighting
– Warm lighting.
– Welcoming lighting.
– Comfortable lighting.

Ambience
– Relaxing music.
– Pleasing music. 
– Comfortable temperature Enticing aroma.

Layout
– Enough seat space
– Crowded seating arrangement   – Easy-to-move layout

Dining equipment 
– High-quality tableware. 
– Attractive linens. 
– Attractive table setting.

Employees
– Attractive employees. 
– Neat and well-dressed. employees.

B) Emotional states

Pleasure 
Unhappy—happy. 
Annoyed—pleased. 
Bored—entertained. 
Disappointed—delighted.

Arousal
Depressed—cheerful. 
Calm—excited. 
Indifferent—surprised.

C) Behavioural intentions 
Patronage. 
Recommendation.
Staying longer
Spending more.

“I would like to come back to this restaurant in the future”
“I would recommend this restaurant to my friends”
“I am willing to stay longer than I planned at this restaurant”
“I am willing to spend more than I planned at this restaurant”