Listening to Strangers: Whose Responses are Valuable, How Valuable Are They, and Why?
Journal of Marketing Research, 2008
Posted: 14 Apr 2008
Marketing managers and consumers who use the web as a source of information often use input from strangers to make decisions or gain knowledge. The authors propose that in such contexts the information provider's current and past behaviors, relative to those of other information providers, influence who the information seeker thinks provides a valuable response and how valuable they judge the provider's information to be. The authors track information queries, information provider responses, and objective valuation of these responses by information seekers in a web forum - where responses to information queries come from multiple information providers with whom the information seeker has not met face-to-face and has had no prior interaction. Among other results, the authors show that a provider's response speed, the extent to which their previous responses within the focal domain have been positively evaluated by others, and the breadth of their previous responses across different domains of knowledge affect objective judgments of information value. Importantly, these effects are moderated by the information seeker's goal orientation; in particular, whether they want to make a decision or learn something new. The information provider's experience in responding to questions in different domains of knowledge increases judgments of information value for those with a decision orientation, whereas the information provider's reputation for providing valuable contributions within the focal domain increases judgments of information value for those with a learning orientation.
Keywords: Information value, information search, information exchange, goal orientation, learning, decision-making
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