The research was designed to determine where the customer places blame for a negative outcome, or who they assign credit to for a positive outcome. The research in intended for any firm that distributes or produces goods and services where the customer participates in co-production.
The research was conducted using undergraduate students in a controlled research study. It was conducted in two phases, which examined the customer's self-serving bias, or the degree that they took responsibility for a positive or negative outcome. The first phase examined the impact that the self-serving bias has on customer satisfaction, and the second phase examined methods to reduce the self-serving bias.
It has been traditionally thought that the lowered price of a self-serve product and customer participation, such as with self-serve gasoline, would bring about greater satisfaction based on economics. However, there is also a level of psychological satisfaction with the firm that is based on the outcome of the transaction and the customer participation. The research found that if the outcome is positive, the customer has less satisfaction with the firm when they participate in the production. This indicates that the customer takes partial credit for the positive outcome.