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Article
The Assimilative and Contrastive Effects of Word-of-Mouth Volume: An Experimental Examination of Online Consumer Ratings
Journal of Retailing (2011)
  • Lauren Labrecque, Loyola University Chicago
Abstract
The popularity of online rate-and-review websites has increased the importance of word-of-mouth (WOM) volume (number of ratings) yet the retail literature has not paid adequate attention to understanding its impact. This paper highlights WOM volume as a high-scope, decision-making cue upon which the influence of other WOM-relevant characteristics on a WOM message's persuability depends. We begin, via a pretest, by demonstrating the intuitive expectation that high volume, relative to low volume, accentuates or assimilates perceptions of positivity or negativity of WOM targets. Then, through two experimental studies, we show that depending upon how high volume interacts with WOM consensus and consumer decision precommitment, it can contrast preference away from the valence of a target also. In our third and final experimental study, we demonstrate that consumers differ in their susceptibility to the influence of high volume. Those with a higher desire to be different from others, compared to those with a higher desire to be similar, are resistant to high volume's assimilative sway and do not show the valence-accentuating effects demonstrated in the pretest. Retail managers and researchers should find these insights about the different roles of WOM volume beneficial.
Keywords
  • word-of-mouth,
  • assimilation and contrast,
  • social influence,
  • volume,
  • valence,
  • consensus,
  • consumer precommitment,
  • need for uniqueness,
  • online user ratings
Disciplines
Publication Date
March, 2011
DOI
10.1016/j.jretai.2011.01.005
Citation Information
Lauren Labrecque. "The Assimilative and Contrastive Effects of Word-of-Mouth Volume: An Experimental Examination of Online Consumer Ratings" Journal of Retailing Vol. 87 Iss. 1 (2011) p. 111 - 126
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lauren-labrecque/6/