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Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74

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Australasian Marketing Journal
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/amj

The relationship between electronic word-of-mouth motivations and message characteristics: The sender’s perspective
Kenneth B. Yap ⇑, Budi Soetarto, Jillian C. Sweeney
UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia, Australia

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
This study investigates how particular motivations are associated with different eWOM message characteristics. This is examined from the sender’s perspective in both positive and negative eWOM contexts. Responses from a sample of 201 consumers who had posted an online message about a financial service in the last 12 months were collected through an online survey. Results showed that cognitive and affective characteristics of messages were linked to different motivations to engage in eWOM, which further differed across positive and negative messages. Managers should encourage consumers to share more positive factual information and sort online reviews based on the subject matter, rather than just the positivity of a message. Ó 2012 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 30 September 2011 Revised 15 August 2012 Accepted 12 September 2012 Available online 9 November 2012 Keywords: Word-of-mouth Cognitive Affective Motivation Financial services Electronic word-of-mouth

1. Introduction It is well-documented that word-of-mouth (WOM) can influence consumers’ decisions (e.g. Day, 1971; Harrison-Walker, 2001; East et al., 2008). The persuasiveness of a WOM message may depend on, among other things, the way a sender words a message through logical and emotional appeals or characteristics (Mazzarol et al., 2007; Sweeney et al., 2012). However, what remains unknown is what drives the sender to design their message with such characteristics. The present study attempted to address this research gap in an online environment. The task of identifying and assessing WOM content has in the past been challenging as WOM has often been privately communicated, such that managers are neither privy to what is being said, nor how it is being said. As WOM communication is becoming increasingly transparent in online discussion forums, social networking sites, consumer review sites and blogs (Riegner, 2007), it is now possible to identify and examine individual electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) messages and gain richer insight into how customers’ feelings and experiences about a service are represented to others. The present study made use of this new source of WOM.

Much of the research on WOM examines the receiver’s perspective and little has addressed the generation of WOM (HarrisonWalker, 2001). To advance our knowledge in this area, a suitable point of departure is the investigation of WOM from the sender’s perspective, in particular their motivation to initiate WOM communication and the characteristics of the WOM message. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between motivations and message characteristics across both positive and negative eWOM. 2. Literature review 2.1. The power of word-of-mouth (WOM) Westbrook (1987, p. 261) defined WOM as ‘‘informal communication directed toward other consumers about the ownership, usage, or characteristics of particular goods and services and/or their sellers’’. Researchers have found WOM is more effective than advertising and promotional activities in influencing consumer decision making, including changing attitudes (e.g. Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955; Day, 1971) or increased patronage (e.g. Arndt, 1967; Holmes and Lett, 1977). However, little is known about the characteristics that make a persuasive WOM message as researchers have, almost without exception, measured WOM in terms of its frequency and the number of people who receive it (e.g. Westbrook, 1987; Bowman and Naryandas, 2001). Such an aggregated approach to measuring WOM, in that individual messages are often not examined for its content and wording, has been

⇑ Corresponding author. Address: UWA Business School (M263), The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. Tel.: +61 864885876; fax: +61 964881004. E-mail addresses: kyap@biz.uwa.edu.au (K.B. Yap), bsoetarto@gmail.com (B. Soetarto), jsweeney@biz.uwa.edu.au (J.C. Sweeney).

1441-3582/$ - see front matter Ó 2012 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ausmj.2012.09.001

2007.g. A number of authors support Mason and Davis’ (2007. was used in the present study. 2012). it really is how you say it’’. 2010) suggests that communication motives may be linked to the wording of a message. 2000). body language. Sweeney et al. namely: 1. I recommend this company without any hesitation’’ ‘‘Let me tell you: this company is always one of the first ones to raise their interest rates and has had at least four interest rate rises above the one by the Reserve Bank.it has too many fees. 2012). 2003. Examples of this in the financial services context are shown in Table 1..g. Helping the company relates to a consumer’s desire to help a company as a result of a particularly pleasing consumption experience.4. This is what ALL banks should be like. . talk does not simply involve producing words. .3. It is a production with a social end’’. Recipients of eWOM are also more likely to be persuaded in the case of higher informational quality and message clarity (Karmarkar and Tormala. Allsop et al. having assessed other financial products.597) stated: ‘‘.. Sundaram et al.. 1966. 2012). Often Table 1 Examples of cognitive and affective characteristics of eWOM messages.g. as well as affective content (Sweeney et al. 2007. Sweeney et al. 2010. 4. Sweeney et al.. The cognitive and affective characteristics of WOM messages Anderson (1998) recognised the importance of examining WOM content and suggested positive WOM can vary in its vividness. 2. .. Mason and Davis. it is more than words. However. . we do argue that consumers use language as a means to structure and represent reality in a particular way.2. with the purpose of communicating an intention to someone else. eWOM messages can be described in terms of cognitive and/or affective characteristics. (2007) argued that the specific goal that a consumer strives for in communication may be reflected in the content of the message. .g. content. Every direct debit transaction incurred a fee’’ ‘‘I feel ripped off! The bastards raised their interest rates faster that you can say BAM!! I hate most banks. Mason and Davis.’’ Negative ‘‘Do not deal with this bank. and discharging the loan. 3. For example a consumer will talk differently if they want to take revenge from when they seek social connections. Venting negative feelings relates to a dissatisfying consumption experience that results in the consumer wanting to release frustration and anxiety through negative WOM.B. The link between cognitive and affective WOM message characteristics and subsequent attitudes and behaviour of the receiver has been demonstrated in several studies (e. . For example. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 67 helpful in studying overall WOM activity. Motivation to engage in electronic WOM (eWOM) Past studies have suggested a range of motives for engaging in WOM (e.. Advice seeking concerns the need to acquire tips and support from others to better understand and use a product or service. Wetzer et al. 2007). six of which are of interest in the present study. I would not give them a single cent! .. Consequently.. intensity and vividness and reflect the language used and the degree of storytelling or depth of information involved in the message (Mazzarol et al. Semin (2000. I had soooo many pathetic experiences with other banks. Kozinets et al. 5. It has fees for application. In this study. 2007). anger and disappointment). I definitely would encourage you to do your research. and indeed this difference is largely due to varied underlying emotions (e. Social benefits occur when a consumer transmits a WOM message for identification and social integration purposes. East et al.. Hennig-Thurau et al. 2008).. It requires choosing words from a lexicon to create sentences that are also linguistically structured. 2. but this one is the worst of the lot! If it were not for helping my friend’s business. It is so disappointing dealing with them because the advertising portrays them as community-friendly. maintenance. 2010). I cannot recommend this bank enough. we define cognitive characteristics as the rational component of a message that typically refers to product attributes including performance. the importance of words. 2007). I think the fund managers there are geniuses and make others look pretty bad. Concern for other consumers relates to genuine offers to help other consumers make better purchase decisions. Such research provides the impetus to investigate what generates cognitive and affective characteristics. a more ‘disaggregated’ measure of WOM in which the individual WOM message is the unit of analysis.K. . 2012). 2007. Dichter.this bank may not be as friendly as you think. receivers have higher service and value expectations following the receipt of a message high in cognitive content in particular.’s (1998) motivations to an online context. pleasantness and novelty. Valence Positive Cognitive ‘‘Not only was the promotional interest rate attractive. the comparative rate for this product was extremely competitive’’. 6. .. In this study we specifically explore the cognitive and affective characteristics of eWOM since these are core communication dimensions (e. 2. 2010. 2012). This is neither to say that consumers are aware that their communication goals are facilitated by the way they use the language. p. A number of authors have emphasised the importance of the message characteristics on the message persuasiveness. written communication (Karmarkar and Tormala. 1998).. There is a wide selection of investment options for different risk profiles or investment objectives. it makes this bank really stand out. (2004) adapted Dichter (1966) and Sundaram et al. Link between motivations and message characteristics Research on WOM communication (Wetzer et al. including both rational and emotional aspects (Allsop et al. which is a research gap the present study aims to address. For example. Affective ‘‘Believe me. Schellekens et al. in order to influence the belief processes of the recipient (Semin. 2010) and messages posted online (Schau and Gilly. Positive self-enhancement reflects a consumer’s need to share their consumption experience to augment their own image as intelligent shoppers. Karmarkar and Tormala.. nor that they are manipulative in the way they talk. and expressiveness has been emphasised in WOM messages (Dichter. response to problems. 2. p. Affective characteristics refer to the message’s depth. 1966.. but limits our understanding of the richness and subtleties in individual WOM messages (Mazzarol et al. as well as the extent to which it conveys a sender’s experiences.’’ Cognitive and affective ‘‘You are not wrong about this investment company. proposed (and empiricallytested) several reasons why a consumer might engage in eWOM communication. Yap et al.505) assertion regarding communication ‘‘.. 2007. . . and price-value perceptions (Sweeney et al.

.. Karmarkar and Tormala. and ‘‘confidently’’) (e. 1998). 2003) and how different motivations impact communication behaviours (e.. (2004) labelled ‘concern for other consumers’ implies an element of altruism. both of which imply the message is likely to contain product-specific information to contextualise their request for help. A person with this motive initiates eWOM communication either by giving their current views on the service or explaining their predicament. 2007). 3. which is a voluntary act benefiting others without expecting something in return (Piliavin and Charng. Conceptual framework. a consumer may initiate eWOM communication to signify his/her presence in the community. 2004). Yap et al. Douglas and Sutton. Hennig-Thurau et al. 3.g. Studies have suggested altruists recognise the best way to be helpful in WOM communication is to be informative and functional (Sen and Lerman. and uncertainty may be evident in negative WOM communication that is designed to solicit advice. we anticipated that the more an eWOM message was used to gain social acceptance. Part 2). Hennig-Thurau et al. 2004). Positive self-enhancement A desired outcome commonly associated with positive selfenhancement is to present oneself as an intelligent or discerning shopper (Sundaram et al. 2004).g. Mason and Davis. Hennig-Thurau et al. This motive can manifest in different ways. ‘‘definitely’’. 2000). 3. 2010). For example.. 2007. 1990. 1998. Social benefits Hennig-Thurau et al. the research purpose is to examine the relationship between motivations to engage in eWOM communication and the cognitive and affective characteristics of such a message. 1. This suggests a Fig. a consumer may post a message to appease ‘gatekeepers’ who decide who gets accepted or ignored in the community (McWilliam. the greater the: (H2a) cognitive and (H2b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. 2004) and intimate a first-hand account from an ‘expert’ point-of-view (Schindler and Bickart. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 individuals colour their messages through their own opinions and subconscious motivations whether in the context of face-to-face or online communication (e.. McEwen and Greenberg. Beuchot and Bullen (2005) found that someone aiming to make interpersonal connections is likely to disclose details in their online communication.. 2003. Past studies found people who wish to improve their credibility as experts tend to use words that express certainty and confidence in judgement (‘‘very’’. Thus. Wetzer et al. no research to our knowledge has investigated how an individual with a particular motive might word an eWOM message in terms of cognitive and affective characteristics. 2004. While researchers have investigated how motivational goals affect language abstraction (e.B. 2011). Alternatively.. 1998. We expected someone who initiates eWOM communication to seek advice is likely to offer significant detail in their message.2.3. We also anticipated that such a message would be worded in emphatic and persuasive language. 2007). 2005)..g. Concern for other consumers The motivation Hennig-Thurau et al. the greater the: (H1a) cognitive and (H1b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. Douglas and Sutton. . suggesting: The greater the ‘social benefits’ motivation. (2004) found people share an emotional negative experience by explaining the circumstances of the negative event and describing their own reactions to the event. It is reasonable to suggest someone with this motive would craft a message containing information that may signal connoisseurship (Hennig-Thurau et al.4. (2004) associated this motivation with a person’s need for identification and social integration in a community.1. the greater would be its cognitive and affective characteristics. may also be in keeping with an impression of sophistication. Wetzer et al.g. Bronner and de Hoog. 3.. it is likely the advice-seeking message will contain emotive language as a means of relating to others and gaining empathy before asking for help (Luminet et al. Since concerns about presentation are similar to those of positive selfenhancement. suggesting: The greater the ‘advice seeking’ motivation. 1970. while Luminet et al. (2007) suggested expressions of regret. Hypotheses 1–3 were tested on positively-valenced and negatively-valenced eWOM messages separately. 1.’s (2004) eWOM motivations to examine the link between motivations and cognitive and affective message characteristics. disappointment. Advice seeking Consumers motivated by ‘advice seeking’ seek to maximise personal utility by prompting advice or information from others to better understand and use a product or service (Sundaram et al. A well-articulated or vividly-worded message 3. ‘‘sure’’.68 K. In addition. the greater the: (H3a) cognitive and (H3b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. suggesting: The greater the ‘positive self-enhancement’ motivation. Conceptual development The proposed conceptual model suggests a sender’s motivation to engage in eWOM communication influences the degree of cognitive and affective characteristics of the message (Fig. We use six of Hennig-Thurau et al. Sundaram et al.

(H4f) For negative eWOM. the greater the: (H6a) cognitive and (H6b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. 2010). 2009). the greater the ‘helping other consumers’ motivation. Those who either made the post over a year ago or those who could not recall the content of the post were filtered out of the sample.1 For negative eWOM messages. consumers with an unfavourable service experience are concerned about warning other consumers about a service provider. The data used to test the hypotheses were collected through an online survey using a national online consumer panel service. Such an eWOM message is also likely to be worded emotively to encapsulate the consumer’s post-consumption reactions of delight and pleasure (Mano. in an effort to appear particularly objective (Pollach. 1996. Subsequently. the sender is likely to recap details of their experience and provide sufficient factual information to substantiate the recommendation. with 70% of respondents seeking (and 44% providing) information and advice on financial services. This motivation is likely to manifest in an eWOM message that has greater affective characteristics than cognitive characteristics. Such a message is thus likely to have significant cognitive content. the greater the cognitive characteristics of the message compared to its affective characteristics. 304 who had made such a post were invited to continue the survey. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 69 message resulting from a concern for other consumers will have greater cognitive characteristics. it could be that someone who initiates eWOM communication with altruistic motives wants to be helpful through some level of persuasion. without discrediting their intentions by appearing to be emotionally invested in the service provider (i. Ward and Ostrom. WOM is also particularly effective in credence services such as the study context. The respondents were asked if they had posted an eWOM message in an online forum.and negatively-worded items. (1985) and Mano (1997) found consumers who are happy tend to increase their cognitive deliberation and thoroughness. rather than a message that is logical in appeal (Wetzer et al. suggesting: For negative eWOM messages. the greater the ‘warning other consumers’ motivation. 1981). Yap et al. Allsop et al. the greater the ‘warning other consumers’ motivation. the greater the affective characteristics of the message compared to its cognitive characteristics. frustration. and irritation. the greater the ‘helping the company’ motivation. When enraged. 1998. Helping the company The motivation to help a company comes from a positive consumption experience and the individual’s goal is to reward the company by referring it to others. the greater the cognitive characteristics of the message compared to its affective characteristics of the message. In doing so. suggesting: For positive eWOM messages. Conversely. prior to stipulating our hypotheses with respect to ‘concern for others’. 2005). Schellekens et al. Wetzer et al. Venting negative feelings Conversely. suggests their eWOM message has greater cognitive characteristics. Consumers with a favourable service experience display concern by helping others make the right decision. . Isen et al. a consumer’s need for revenge and desire for catharsis is strong and better served by an emotional message displaying their feelings. Online consumer panels have been commonly used for market research since the emergence of the Internet (Poynter. intending to seek vengeance and punish the organisation (Sundaram et al. The aim here is to avoid coloring the message with emotion or vivid language.e. an email invitation was sent to 7. suggesting: H6c) For negative eWOM. we did not find supporting literature to form specific hypotheses on relative weights. people who are unhappy with a consumption experience may use negative eWOM to convince others to boycott the offending organisation. Since Herche and Engelland (1996) cautioned that a construct is not likely to be unidimensional if it has both positively.654 online panel members across Australia. even after the service encounter (Zeithaml. thus enhancing the logical appeal of their argument (Kowalski. the greater the: (H4a) cognitive and (H4b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. We also suggest the more a person is concerned for others. 2007. the greater the ‘venting negative feelings’ motivation. (2007) and McColl-Kennedy et al. The highly-emotive nature of ‘venting negative feelings’ suggests an additional hypothesis.6. In all. However. Kozinets et al.. 2006. The final sample size was 201. this motivation was treated as two constructs (‘helping other consumers’ and ‘warning other consumers’).K. (2009) found negative WOM messages with venting and vengeance motives are likely to contain expressions of anger. Schindler and Bickart. the sender is likely to convey a strong sense of conviction. 3. some revision of this motivation is needed.. 2006). Further. the greater the ‘venting negative feelings’ motivation. playing it cool). 2007). Macdonald and Uncles. the greater the: (H4c) cognitive and (H4d) affective characteristics of the eWOM message. which in turn. 4. suggesting:(H4e) For positive eWOM. McColl-Kennedy et al. 2007). as well as valence (whether 1 In the case of H1-H3 the relative weight of each motivation on cognitive and affective characteristics was also examined. Hennig-Thurau et al. Research methodology These hypotheses were investigated within a financial services context. where quality is difficult to evaluate. To gain compliance from others. the greater the: (H5a) cognitive and (H5b) affective characteristics of the eWOM message.B. (2004) conceptualised concern for others in terms of both helping and warning other consumers. In an attempt to assist the company in a meaningful way. As WOM is sought for its credibility and independence from marketer interests. 2293 of whom (30%) responded to the request.. 3. (2010) observed that some people who go online to evaluate a product may emphasise product attributes to demonstrate their trustworthiness. the communicator is likely to include clear descriptions or detailed examples. A questionnaire was developed to measure the constructs of interest and tested for face validity with three academic marketing experts and subsequently pre-tested on a sample of undergraduate students. Jeffries (1998) found altruistic behaviour tends to be more intense when the altruist perceives him/herself to be a defender of justice and may articulate a passionately-worded message to represent the cause. 1997. suggesting: For positive eWOM messages. the greater the ‘helping other consumers’ motivation. There is also evidence to suggest someone looking to punish an organisation or vent negative feelings is likely to word their eWOM message with strong emotional language. the greater will be the affective characteristics of the eWOM message. Respondents were asked to recall their most recent online posting about a financial service and report details of the message concerning content and delivery aspects. It may also be that the tone and language used has to be sufficiently moving so the altruist’s deeds are not in vain. (2007) found WOM occurs frequently in the financial services area. However.5..

we expected that Sweeney et al. 2007).68 and 0. p < 0. advice seeking (0. Half used the internet daily. the adjusted R2 when regressing cognitive characteristics on the full set of motivations was 0. (2009) in a study of service quality ratings. Similar recall approaches have been used by Christophe and Rime (1997) in a study of social sharing of emotions. Bogomolova et al. Thus the level of cognitive characteristics was better explained by motivations than the level of affective characteristics.61 and the maximum squared-correlation between constructs was 0. discriminant validity was established between the cognitive and affective dimensions as the minimum AVE was 0.2. We grouped positive and negative eWOM givers as follows: positive included ‘positive’ or ‘mostly positive’ eWOM messages. Since none of the original correlations were significantly different from their CMV-adjusted values.73. H3a. the ‘concern for other consumers’ motivation comprised both ‘helping other consumers’ and ‘warning other consumers’ representing positive and negative experiences. 1988).02). the motivations of positive selfenhancement.). Construct reliability and validity Common method bias was tested using Lindell and Whitney’s (2001) approach which involves estimating a proxy for CMV though and re-estimating all correlations between model variables. Exploratory factor analyses of the six sets of motivation items replicated the original factor structure with the exception of ‘concern for other consumers’. squared-correlation = 0.’s (2004) original motivation measures of eWOM. message characteristics. supporting H1a.57 in the present study and 0.82. but not with affective characteristics (0. Goodness-of-Fit indices.16 in the case of affective characteristics. East and Uncles (2008) have argued retrospective surveys are a useful way of studying WOM. We reasoned that with only one dimension of communication available in the online forum context. 0.54.81) than the original four item scale (0. 1). 4 3 5. 2006).01).4 resulting in a sample of 92 positive messages (all or mostly positive) and 109 negative messages (all or mostly negative. .39. 0. Correlation and multiple regression analysis were used in both sub-samples to test the hypotheses relating to relationships between motivations. Further.’s 2004 study). Based on this criterion.B. were measured on five-point Likert scales (1 = strongly disagree.48 (Personal self-enhancement and Helping the company). raffective = 0. H3b. discriminant validity was supported. As the minimum AVE was 0. 0. Yap et al. n.30.41 vs. the motivations of positive selfenhancement (rcognitive = 0. verbal and visual cues that are part of face-to-face communication.3 5.37).41.. AVEwarn = 0. Discriminant validity between all of the constructs pairs was also examined through Fornell and Larcker’s (1981) test. Steiger’s Z-test was used to examine the relative strength of the relationship between cognitive and affective message characteristics and other constructs as hypothesised in H4e. each construct was operationalised through the average value of all the corresponding items listed in Table 2 (Rodríguez-Pinto et al. and not having access to other cues such as voice inflection and body language. To demonstrate discriminant validity. 1981.s. and Sweeney et al. 1981). social benefits (0. while negative included ‘negative and positive’ ‘negative’ or ‘mostly negative’ eWOM messages. Further. The analysis was also investigated through correlational analyses. For subsequent analyses.58 in Hennig-Thurau et al. rather than through intonation.70 minimum level (Hair et al. Based on Fornell and Larcker’s (1981) criterion.25) and helping the company (0. which can be seen in Table 2 below. construct reliability. The final sample comprised almost equal numbers of males and females. as 2 Given the online context. body language. (2012) in a study of WOM message characteristics. (2012). while the cognitive and affective characteristics of the eWOM message were measured using the WOM content scales developed by Sweeney et al. while the remainder used it at least once a week. The measurement properties of each construct in the conceptual model were examined through one-factor congeneric models (Fornell and Larcker.90).’s (2012) scale of WOM message characteristics: a 4-item factor representing the cognitive dimension (construct reliability = 0. Convergent validity was demonstrated as the AVE for each construct exceeded 0. which is considerably more recent than the interval between incidents and survey reporting described by Christophe and Rime (1997).1. Two factors emerged from an exploratory factor analysis of Sweeney et al. according to the valence of the message. Fornell and Larcker (1981) recommended that the AVE (Average Variance Extracted) for each construct had to be higher than the squared-correlation between them. H2a. Findings 5.38) were significantly associated with cognitive and affective message characteristics (all p < 0. Median internet usage was 15 h a week. In line with expectations. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 the message was more positive or negative). In the case of positive eWOM messages.’s (2012) ‘content richness’ and ‘strength of delivery’ message characteristics derived from face-to-face WOM research would likely represent the same ‘affective’ dimension.12. that these two characteristics would be indistinguishable.90) and an 8-item factor representing the affective dimension (combining ‘content richness’ and ‘strength of delivery’. 5 = negative). and average variance extracted scores can be seen in Table 2. thus supporting H4e. Hypotheses Testing The sample was split into positive and negative eWOM subsamples. The loadings for each variable on its respective construct was statistically significant and construct reliabilities were all above the suggested 0. Over 60% of posts had been made in the last three months and 80% in the last six months. H1b. The motivation to post the message was measured by adapting Hennig-Thurau et al. construct reliability = 0.01).12.38).34.53 (affective characteristics) and the squared-correlation between the two constructs was 0. The combined construct rather than separate constructs had face validity in the online setting. strength of delivery is likely to be communicated through rich language using the written word. Anderson and Gerbing. For positive eWOM messages.50 (Fornell and Larcker.2 All of the items. as well as H5a and H5b (see Table 3). 42% were aged 25–44 and 36% were aged 45 years and older. and mixed positive and negative). while 22% were under 25 years. p < 0.70 K. common method bias was not likely to confound the results (see Appendix A). in which each of the two message characteristics were regressed on motivations to engage in eWOM (see Fig.. and consumer outcomes. The motivation to help other consumers was associated with cognitive characteristics (0. 5 = strongly agree). discriminant validity was established for the two factors (AVEhelping = 0. respectively. social benefits and advice seeking were not associAvailable from authors on request.36. we asked respondents about the message valence on a 5-point scale (1 = positive. but only 0. These factors had higher reliabilities (Cronbach alphas of 0. Regression analyses were conducted. For negative eWOM messages. 0. The psychometric properties of the scales were assessed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. H4f and H6c. H2b. item loadings. which is the written word. thus supporting H4a but not H4b. The results of a Steiger’s Z-test suggested the association of helping other consumers with cognitive characteristics was greater that with affective characteristics (0.01).44.

64 GFI = 0.83 0.86 0.80 3. the adjusted R2 in negative eWOM was similar when regressing cognitive and affective charac- teristics on motivations (0. Factor Items Goodness-of-fit indices (one factor models) GFI = 0. but the difference was not significant.55 0. b N = 109.82 Negative eWOMb Mean 3. d Indicates that only negative eWOM is applicable.10 0.53 3. .81 0.73 0.95 3.83 0.79 0.50 0.87 0.88 CFI = 0.85 0. .62 GFI = 0.90 0.72 4. respectively).18. thus H1a. H2b and H3b were not supported in the case of negative eWOM.77 0.42.84 0.71 Items are measured on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = strongly disagree.82 0.73 4.B.44 and 0.78 0.75 0.K. respectively).90 0. The hypothesis that a negative eWOM message motivated by wanting to warn other consumers would have greater cognitive characteristics than affective characteristics was also tested through Steiger’s Z-test. hence H4f was not supported.84 0.) Affective characteristics (I believe the message I posted was.76 0.49 0.88 0.88 0.95 0.) GFI = 0.99 CFI = 0.88 0.99 CFI = 0.09 0.90 0. The exception to this is the association between the motivation of advice seeking and cognitive characteristics 0.81 0.87 0.16 1.60 0.84 0. good companies should be supported I am so satisfied with a company and its product that I want to help the company to be successful I like to get anger off my chest I want to take vengeance upon the company The company harmed me.44 vs.75 0. c Indicates that only positive eWOM is applicable.04 0.70 0.84 0.66 4.87 0.01 in both cases) and to vent negative feelings (0.02 Cognitive Characteristics (I believe the message I posted was. . ated with either cognitive or affective message characteristics. Yap et al.63 N/A N/A 3. Both cognitive and affective message characteristics were positively associated with the motivation to warn other consumers (0.80 0.50 0. Thus the level of both cognitive and affective characteristics was equally explained by motivations in the case of negative eWOM. N/A denotes not applicable.86 0.92 CFI = 0.10 SD 1.82 0.01.98 GFI = 0. p < 0.33. 5 = strongly agree.07 0. . H6a and H6b. 0.88 0. H2a.90 0.79 0.67 3.61 3. H1b.52 0.78 SD 0.09 71 Personal self-enhancement This way I can express my joy about a good buy I can tell others about a great experience I feel good when I can tell others about my buying success My contributions show others that I am a clever customer I believe a chat among like-minded people is a nice thing It is fun to communicate this way I meet nice people this way I hope to receive advice from others to help solve my problems I expect to receive tips or supports from other users I want to help others with my own positive experiences I want to give others the opportunity to buy the right product I want to warn others of bad products I want to save others from having the same negative experiences as me In my opinion.81 GFI = 0. In contrast to the positive eWOM case. H4d.69 4.89 CFI = 0.29 0.90 CFI = 0.67 3.20 and 0.13 0.74 0. p < 0.84 0. Results were in the expected direction (0. thus supporting H4c.92 0.01) (H3a). and now I will harm the company My contributions help me to shake off frustration about bad buys Specific Clear Informative Reliable Delivered in a strong way Delivered powerfully Delivered in an important manner Intense Delivered using strong words Reinforcing Elaborate Explicit Social Benefits Advice seeking Help other consumersc Warn other consumersd Helping the companyc 0.82 N/A N/A 4.78 3. The venting-affective link (0.34 (p < 0. p < 0.87 N/A N/A 0.82 0.42) was significantly greater than the venting-cognitive link .87 N/A N/A Venting negative feelingd GFI = 0. however the explanation was not as high as for cognitive characteristics in the case of positive eWOM. a N = 92.77 GFI = 0.86 GFI = 0.90 0.84 0.87 0.20.33).82 0. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 Table 2 Results of confirmatory factor analysis.87 CFI = 0.05 and 0.88 0.92 CFI = 0.90 CFI = 0. respectively.85 0.99 Item loading Construct reliability AVE Positive eWOMa Mean 0.

warning other consumers ? greater affective characteristics For positive eWOM.54** N/A 0.42** (H6b) 0. Discussion and implications 6.20 109 Affective characteristics -0. / Australasian Marketing Journal 21 (2013) 66–74 Table 3 Correlations between Motivations and Cognitive and Affective Characteristics of an eWOM Message.20) (p < 0. 6. although the difference was not significant.15 (H1a) 0. Allsop et al.. do generate cognitive and affective characteristics. and advice seeking are positively linked to both cognitive and affective characteristics of the message.12 (H4b) N/A 0.37** (H2b) 0. positive effect of motivation of venting negative feelings has a greater effect on cognitive characteristics than affective (only for positive .33** (H4d) N/A 0. 1).B.41 > 0.1.36 92 (H1a) (H2a) (H3a) (H4a) (H5a) Affective characteristics 0. ** p < 0.20* (H6a) 0. social benefits. service quality Table 4 Summary of Hypotheses Testing. 2011). In contrast. helping other consumers ? affective characteristics For negative eWOM. helping the company ? cognitive characteristics For positive eWOM.11 (H2b) 0. It seems people are more circumspect in the case of warning than venting.72 K.44** 0. The findings suggest that for positive eWOM messages. However. venting evoked significantly stronger affective than cognitive message characteristics. personal selfenhancement. thus supporting H6c.34** 0.25* (H3b) 0.g. these social motives largely do not appear to be associated with the extent of cognitive and affective characteristics in a negative eWOM message.41** N/A 0.2. Helping other consumers was.01. Managers should be aware that some of these motivations may give rise to eWOM messages with sufficient cognitive and affective characteristics to impact their business.44** (H4c) N/A 0. 2007.38** (H1b) 0. as expected significantly more linked to cognitive than affective message characteristics in positive eWOM messages. # Hypothesis Result Partial support eWOM) Partial support eWOM) Partial support eWOM) Partial support eWOM) Supported Partial support eWOM) Supported Not supported Supported Supported Supported Not supported Supported Supported Supported Supported Supported (only for positive (only for positive (only for positive (only for positive Motivations and message characteristics H1a Self-enhancement ? cognitive characteristics H1b H2a H2b H3a H3b H4a H4b H4c H4d H4e H4f H5a H5b H6a H6b H6c Self-enhancement ? affective characteristics Social benefits ? cognitive characteristics Social benefits ? affective characteristics Advice seeking ? greater cognitive characteristics Advice seeking ? affective characteristics For positive eWOM. The impact of cognitive and affective elements on receiver expectations of. R2 for regression equation N Note: * p < 0. 2007).01). 6. venting negative feelings ? cognitive characteristics For negative eWOM. helping other consumers has a greater effect on cognitive characteristics than affective For negative eWOM. Managerial implications The proposed framework emphasises the importance of understanding the links between motives for initiating eWOM communication and the cognitive and affective communication characteristics of eWOM messages (Fig.42** (H6c) (0.39** 0.18 109 Comparative hypotheses (Steiger’s Z) 0.44 > 0. messages motivated by warning others in the negative eWOM case. providing additional support for the notion that those altruistically-motivated to share their positive or negative service experience with others are likely to focus on factual content in the message content (Sen and Lerman. Positive eWOM Cognitive characteristics Personal Self-enhancement Social Benefits Advice Seeking Help Other Consumers Warn Other Consumers Helping the Company Venting Negative Feeling Adj. venting negative feelings ? affective characteristics For negative eWOM. in particular cognitive and affective message components following the centrality of cognitive and affective elements in communication (e.. Efforts to make personal or social gain from eWOM communication seem to evoke clear factual information that is presented in a persuasive and emotive manner. helping other consumers ? cognitive characteristics For positive eWOM.17 (H2a) 0.33 (H4f) 0. Bronner and de Hoog.10 (H3b) N/A 0.14 (H1b) 0. Mason and Davis. particularly the former.12** (H4e) 0. warning other consumers has a greater on cognitive characteristics than affective For positive eWOM. while a summary of hypotheses testing is given in Table 4. 0.34** (H3a) N/A 0.16 92 Negative eWOM Cognitive characteristics 0.20 < 0. as expected. helping the company ? affective characteristics For negative eWOM. Yap et al. 2011). However.05. The results of the correlation and regression analyses are displayed in Table 3. Discussion and theoretical implications The present study sought to identify how motivations to engage in eWOM influence the characteristics of the eWOM message. 2007. warning other consumers ? cognitive characteristics For negative eWOM. placing more emphasis on cognitive content (Bronner and de Hoog. for example.38** (H5b) N/A 0.

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