What Do People Talk About in Word-Of-Mouth Communications?

Sema Barlas, McGill University, Canada
Lei Huang, Dalhousie University, Canada
This article demonstrates that people engage in word-of-mouth (WOM) communication not only to exchange information so as to make better choices, but also to establish emotional bonds or connections with others. Specifically, we find that people exchange emotional experiences and/or information more often than instrumental information in WOM. Although such behaviors establish social connections among people, they also limit the informational benefits of the social information exchange and, sometimes, bias the choices of individuals. Consequently, WOM participants herd into pleasurable options more often than individuals making the same choices privately.
[ to cite ]:
Sema Barlas and Lei Huang (2009) ,"What Do People Talk About in Word-Of-Mouth Communications?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 763-764.