Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: How Word of Mouth Influences the Speaker

Sarah G. Moore, University of Alberta, Canada
Gavan Fitzsimons, Duke University, USA
James Bettman, Duke University, USA
Consumers frequently share stories about consumption experiences with others through word of mouth (WOM). Past research has focused on how WOM influences the listener; we examine how WOM influences the speaker. Our model outlines variables that determine story-telling language and predicts how specific language influences speakers’ evaluations of experiences. In four studies, we find that stories using explaining language influence speakers through a sense-making process that helps them understand and recover from experiences. Explaining language can cause paradoxical effects of WOM: sharing positive experiences can harm speakers’ evaluations of experiences, while sharing negative experiences can improve speakers’ evaluations of experiences.
[ to cite ]:
Sarah G. Moore, Gavan Fitzsimons, and James Bettman (2010) ,"Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: How Word of Mouth Influences the Speaker", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 98-101 .