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dc.contributor.advisorRob Lawson, Ken Hyde
dc.contributor.authorLang, Bodo
dc.identifier.citationLang, B. (2010). Who talks more? How the satisfaction - word of mouth relationship varies across services (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is about word of mouth (WOM), which is informal communication between consumers about a product or a service, with no party being formally rewarded. This thesis focuses on the relationship between customer satisfaction and WOM. Research has found support for three competing relationships: A positivity bias, where highly satisfied customers engage in more WOM than highly dissatisfied customers; a negativity bias, where highly dissatisfied customers engage in more WOM than highly satisfied customers; and lastly a symmetric relationship, where highly satisfied customers and highly dissatisfied customers engage in similar amounts of WOM. This thesis uses a taxonomy of service encounters to resolve these conflicting findings. The taxonomy is based on three variables: the duration of an encounter, the level of affect (emotional arousal) during the encounter, and the spatial proximity between staff and the customer during the encounter. The two extreme encounters in this taxonomy can be described as EAI (i.e. enduring, affectively charged and intimate distance) and BRD (i.e. brief, rational and public distance). This thesis proposes that the shape of the satisfaction – WOM relationship (positivity bias, negativity bias or symmetric) depends on the type of service encounter. Specifically, BRD encounters are predicted to result in a negativity bias, whereas EAI encounters are expected to exhibit a positivity bias. A mixed methods approach was used to investigate the satisfaction - WOM relationship. The qualitative phase consisted of semi-structured interviews and the data was analysed with a number of techniques. Results confirmed satisfaction as a key driver of WOM and also showed that the satisfaction – WOM relationship varied across different types of services. Importantly, a previously unconsidered variable, WOM's entertainment value, was discovered and shown to be highly associated with consumers’ WOM activity. During the quantitative phase a new measure of WOM intentions was developed and the measure showed high levels of validity and reliability. A Multiple Analysis of Variance (N = 281) supported the positivity bias for EAI encounters and the negativity bias for BRD encounters, thus reconciling the conflicting findings in the WOM literature. This can be considered as the major empirical contribution of this thesis. A Multiple Analysis of Covariance documented the strong impact of entertainment value on WOM activity, which confirms the importance of this construct in WOM research. Similar results were obtained in a second sample (N = 158). Results were explained using the self-serving bias (SSB), where consumers use positive WOM to enhance their self esteem and how other consumers perceive them, thereby engaging in a lot of WOM about highly satisfactory EAI encounters. Conversely, consumers attempt to reduce the potential self-threat of WOM, thus they talk less about highly dissatisfying EAI encounters. This thesis casts doubts over the widely-held misbelief that highly dissatisfied customers engage in more WOM than highly satisfied customers. Instead, this thesis suggests a more subtle relationship: In some categories (e.g. EAI services) highly satisfied customers will engage in more WOM, while in other categories (e.g. BRD services) highly dissatisfied customers are likely to engage in more WOM.en_NZ
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectword of mouthen_NZ
dc.subjectself-serving biasen_NZ
dc.titleWho talks more? How the satisfaction - word of mouth relationship varies across servicesen_NZ
dc.typeThesis of Philosophyen_NZ of Otagoen_NZ Thesesen_NZ
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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