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Examining Biased Assimilation of Brand-related Online Reviews

Alexander Mafael, Sabrina A. Gottschalk and Henning Kreis

Journal of Interactive Marketing, 2016, vol. 36, issue C, 91-106

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.

Keywords: Biased assimilation; eWOM; Online reviews; Moderated mediation; Branding (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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