Word-of-Mouth as Self-Enhancement

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

See all articles by Andrea C. Wojnicki

Andrea C. Wojnicki

University of Toronto

David Godes

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

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

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 C. Wojnicki (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

105 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8

David Godes

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

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