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Word-of-Mouth as Self-Enhancement

48 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2006 Last revised: 28 Apr 2008

Andrea C. Wojnicki

University of Toronto

David Godes

University of Maryland

Date Written: April 25, 2008

Abstract

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

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

Andrea Wojnicki (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

Department of Statistical Sciences
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

David Godes

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

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