Attitude Predictability and Helpfulness in Online Reviews: The Role of Explained Actions and Reactions
16 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2015
Date Written: June 2, 2015
This article examines explanation type in online word of mouth (WOM), focusing on what individuals explain: their actions (“I chose this product because . . .”) or their reactions (“I love this product because . . .”). Results show that review writers explain their actions more than their reactions for utilitarian products, but they explain their reactions more than their actions for hedonic products. They do so to be helpful to review readers, who find explained actions more helpful for utilitarian products and explained reactions more helpful for hedonic products. Explained actions and reactions are differentially helpful across product type because they increase readers’ ability to predict their attitude toward the reviewed product: explained actions increase attitude predictability for utilitarian products, whereas explained reactions increase attitude predictability for hedonic products. These increases in attitude predictability and review helpfulness ultimately increase readers’ choice of the product in question. This article contributes to the explaining and the WOM literatures by focusing on what individuals explain, rather than on how they explain, by identifying product type as a novel moderator of what review writers explain (actions or reactions), and by examining when and why review readers prefer different types of explanations.
Keywords: word of mouth, explaining, explanation, online reviews, utilitarian
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