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Examining Biased Assimilation of Brand-related Online Reviews

Mafael, A., Gottschalk, S. A. and Kreis, H. (2016). Examining Biased Assimilation of Brand-related Online Reviews. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 36, pp. 91-106. doi: 10.1016/j.intmar.2016.06.002

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of pre-existing brand attitudes on consumer processing of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM). This topic is particularly important for brands that simultaneously possess strongly pronounced proponents as well as opponents. Two experimental studies using univalent (study 1, N = 538) and mixed (study 2, N = 262) sets of online reviews find indications for biased assimilation effects of eWOM processing. Consumers perceive positive (negative) arguments in online reviews as more (less) persuasive when having a positive (negative) attitude towards the brand. Perceived persuasiveness in turn influences behavioral intentions and acts as a mediator on the relationship between attitude and behavioral intentions. We examine two moderators of this effect. When priming individuals to focus on other consumers (vs. a self-focus prime), the biased assimilation effect is weaker (study 3a, N = 131). In contrast, we show that biased assimilation becomes stronger under conditions of high (vs. low) cognitive impairment (study 3b, N = 124). Our findings contribute to the literature on the relationship between eWOM and brands and advance our understanding of potential outcomes of brand polarization.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Publisher Keywords: Biased assimilation, eWOM, Online reviews, Moderated mediation, Branding
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Cass Business School > Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20800
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