44th Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference

CHEN, Y. J. (Panel/Session Chair), Rebecca HAMILTON (Panel/Session Chair)

Activity: Involvement in Scholarly EventsOther Participation at Scholarly Events


Chairing a Special Session : Let’s Talk About It: Factors Influencing Word-of-Mouth Content

Session Overview:

Consumers often share information about their consumption experiences and discuss products and services with others online (e.g., by reviewing a service provider or participating in a discussion forum). Although previous research has provided insight about why consumers post content (e.g., Schlosser 2005) and how quantitative metrics such as review volume and ratings change over time (e.g., Moe and Schweidel 2012), we know much less about the factors that influence the qualitative content consumers share. An understanding of online content is critical because decades of research on social influence show that what consumers say influences others (e.g., strong vs. weak arguments: Petty and Cacioppo 1986; vividness effect: Herr, Kardes and Kim 1991).

The four papers in this session, all at an advanced stage, leverage both large datasets from online forums and controlled experiments to examine factors that influence word of mouth (WOM) content. Specifically, they examine whether what consumers say differs
when they are:
• the first to post a response vs. the second or third?
• posting about the past or future instead of the present?
• posting a review on a mobile device vs. on their desktop computer?
• reviewing a provider whose services are harder vs. easier to evaluate?

Hamilton, Schlosser and Chen show that early responses to a post affect later responses to the post, suggesting that the first people to respond play a crucial role in driving the content of the discussion.
Weingarten and Berger demonstrate that there is a strong present bias in what people talk about but that people tend to talk about the near future and distant past This suggests that accessibility and emotional intensity affect when people talk about. The next two papers examine the effects of sharing devices and the type of experience. Lurie, Ransbotham and Liu find that restaurant reviews written on mobile devices are more affective and more negative than those written by the same reviewer on desktops. Notably, mobile reviews tend to be rated by others as less useful, perhaps because they are shorter and more emotional. Finally, Lantzy, Stewart and Hamilton also examine reviews of service providers and find that negative reviews contain higher-quality arguments and more information than positive reviews for the same types of service providers. They show that reviews of credence service providers (e.g., doctors, auto mechanics) include more claims about easier-to-evaluate experience attributes than claims about harder-to-evaluate credence attributes. Consumers rely on online content to make important decisions. We aim to “Make a Difference” by identifying systematic biases that affect the information being shared online. We expect this session to generate discussion about the emotional and affective nature of online content, the influence of previous posts (either by the same person or by others) on subsequent posts, and the various methods that can be used to study WOM. This session will appeal to researchers interested in the antecedents and consequences of WOM and social media marketing as well as those interested in social influence and communication.
Period3 Oct 2013
Event typeConference
LocationChicago, United States, Illinois