Cognitive scripts and prototypes in service encounters

Ronald H. Humphrey, Blake Ashforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Scripts are cognitive structures that guide service transactions and specify the alternatives available to sales agents, retail clerks and other service employees (all of whom are referred to as “agents” in this paper). Prototypes consist of the images that agents have about different types of customers, and can help agents recognize customer needs. Highly developed scripts and prototypes allow agents to respond quickly to varying customer needs. However, scripts and prototypes operate by way of unconscious cognitive processes and, thus, may introduce several types of decision-making flaws. High levels of script repetition may also lead to mindless performance, where customer requests are ignored. This paper discusses ways to teach agents performance scripts and to recognize when their old assumptions and scripts are no longer effective. This paper also describes several scales that can help identify agents who use scripts effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-199
Number of pages25
JournalAdvances in Services Marketing and Management
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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