The Valence and Authenticity of Consumer Online Expression


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date5 May 2023


Consumers online self-expression has been well studied by scholars. This dissertation aims to examine how browsing environment influences consumers’ expression valence and intention. In the following two interrelated essays, we investigate the relationship between browsing environment, comment valence and WOM intention.

The first essay examines the impact of social media platform type on consumers’ comment valence. Past research on commenting mainly focuses on the effect of consumers’ comments on interpersonal communications. However, researchers neglect the reason why consumers make positive or negative comments on social media? We provide empirical evidence that consumers who are engaged in expression-oriented social media (vs. relationship-oriented social media) are more likely to disagree and/or make negative comments. Second, we uncover an intermediate mechanism that links social media type and consumer comment valence. Social media as a social product may prime different self-concepts. Our empirical results indicate that consumers choosing expression-oriented social media (vs. relationship-oriented social media) will activate an independent self (vs. an interdependent self) that leads to a higher likelihood of disagreeing and/or making negative comments.

The second essay explores the intrinsic motivation that drive consumers to leave fake product reviews. Given that generating fake product reviews can bring huge profits to the enterprise, it is impossible to solve fake product reviews problem by weakening companies’ motivations. Relatively, mitigating consumers’ intention to leave fake product reviews seems more feasible. Specifically, we propose that anticipated guilt is the intrinsic motivation that drives consumers to leave fake product reviews. Despite fake product reviews’ importance to both consumers and marketers, little is know about whether different modes of fake product reviews (fake positive vs. fake negative) might change consumers’ intention to leave these fake product reviews. Empirical results indicate that when consumers plan to leave fake negative product reviews (vs. fake positive product reviews), they generate a stronger sense of anticipated guilt. Further, this sense of anticipated guilt prevents consumers from actually leaving these fake product reviews.

    Research areas

  • social media, consumer behavior, online rating/review