Compensatory Knowledge Signaling in Consumer Word-of-Mouth
Journal of Consumer Psychology, October 2013, Forthcoming
58 Pages Posted: 15 May 2013
Date Written: May 14, 2013
This paper extends prior research on consumer knowledge beliefs and word-of-mouth transmission. Findings from four studies suggest that people compensate for unfavorable discrepancies between their actual and ideal consumer knowledge with heightened efforts to signal knowledgeability through the content and volume of their word-of-mouth transmissions. This compensatory knowledge signaling effect is moderated by the self-concept relevance (psychological closeness) of the word-of-mouth target and lay beliefs in the self-enhancement benefits of transmitting product knowledge. Content analysis of participants’ product communications further supports our knowledge signaling account. The relationship between actual:ideal knowledge discrepancies and heightened word-of-mouth intentions is mediated by the specific negative emotion associated with actual:ideal self-discrepancies. Overall, the findings suggest that the relationship between consumer knowledge and word-of-mouth transmission depends not only on what you think you know, but also on what you wish you knew.
Keywords: consumer knowledge, word-of-mouth, self-presentation, self-enhancement, self-discrepancy, online reviews, product reviews, recommendations
JEL Classification: M3, M30, M31, D12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation