48 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2006 Last revised: 28 Apr 2008
Date Written: April 25, 2008
In this research we predict and demonstrate that consumers' propensities to generate word-of-mouth (WOM) is affected by their motivation to self-enhance, that is, to seek experiences that bolster the self-concept. Data from three experiments and an empirical analysis of real-world WOM indicate that self-described consumer experts demonstrate a positivity bias, generating more WOM regarding their satisfying versus their dissatisfying experiences. Importantly, this pattern intensifies when expertise is salient, and it only persists when the experience outcome is attributable to their expertise. In addition to demonstrating the effects and implications of self-enhancement in the WOM context, these insights may partially explain the inconsistencies in previous research regarding the ratio of positive versus negative WOM.
Keywords: Consumer behavior, word of mouth, WOM, expertise, satisfaction, self, self-enhancement
JEL Classification: M31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Wojnicki, Andrea C. and Godes, David, Word-of-Mouth as Self-Enhancement (April 25, 2008). HBS Marketing Research Paper No. 06-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=908999 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.908999