Usefulness of positive and negative online reviews

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Self-enhancement

People motivated by self-enhancement are concerned with their own well-being and the goal is to feel better about themselves when spreading eWOM (Sundaram et al., 1998).
Self-enhancement argues that a person contributes with eWOM since it makes him or her feel better (Sundaram et al., 1998). People make contributions online, wanting to increase their level of social status. In a study on people’s motivation to contribute to Wikipedia, their willingness to spread eWOM was strongly associated with the acknowledgement and appreciation they received in exchange for their expertise (Yang & Lai, 2010). This is according to Milton and Westphal (2005) applicable to online reviews since consumers want to share their knowledge in order to strengthen their view of themselves as an expert in a certain field. Yoo and Gretzel (2009) found in their study on people’s motivation to spread eWOM in the tourism industry, how positive self-enhancement was one of the most important factors. Further, this was confirmed by Yang and Lai (2010), who also pointed out self-enhancement as one of the key motivational factors for people to share their knowledge and expertise online.

Economic rewards

Economic rewards motivate people to contribute with eWOM through discounts and monetary incentives (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004).
For some, the recognition from others is not enough to make the effort to contribute with eWOM. Historically economic compensations have been proved to motivate people to behave in certain ways (Lawler, 1984). Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) applied this theory to people’s intentions to spread eWOM and proved through their study that motivating people to spread eWOM is not an exception. The “right behavior”, e.g. creating consumer-generated content, is rewarded and approved, and the economic compensation is a sign of this approval. People are motivated by different things, depending on the goal they have in mind when contributing to eWOM. Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) proved that people with a high self-interest, eg. self-interest helpers, are strongly motivated to contribute to eWOM when there are monetary compensations involved. In Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) study, the self-interest helpers were one of the largest segments, thus making economic rewards an important motivational factor to consider. In their study on consumers’ motivations to contribute to Wikipedia, Yang and Lai (2010), further confirmed how economic rewards is a factor that encourages people to spread eWOM. However, in contradiction to this Tong et al. (2013) did not agree with these results and did not recognize economic rewards as an important motivational factor in their study.

Homeostase Utility

Homeostase utility is based on the notion that individuals are always striving to balance the equilibrium in their lives by venting positive or negative feelings through online comments or reviews (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004).
Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) identified homeostase utility when they extended the social interaction utility typology, and they based this extension on the balance theory developed by e.g. Zajonc (1971), Newcomb (1953) and Heider, (1946). Balance theory is another motivational theory; conceptualizing individuals strive of balance their emotional state and the urge to maintain cognitive consistency (Yoo & Gretzel, 2007). In the context of online reviews, balance theory argues that when a customer is having a strong positive or negative experience he or she can balance the emotional state by venting positive or negative feelings through e.g. creating eWOM (Hennig-Thurau et al. 2004). According to Yoo and Gretzel (2007) and Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) homeostase utility is one of the major driving forces behind contributing with eWOM. The literature has identified two different parts of this motivational factor, including venting negative feelings and expressing positive feelings (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004; Sundaram et al., 1998; Dichter, 1966). When having a strong positive online shopping experience, expressing positive feelings in an online community could restore one’s emotional balance (Sundaram et al., 1998). A strong positive shopping experience creates a physiological tension of joy and fulfillment inside the customer that he or she desire to reduce by contributing with WOM (Dichter, 1966). Reversely to expressing positive feelings, when a person is experiencing a dissatisfying shopping experiences venting negative feelings can reduce the anger and frustration generated from the event (Yoo & Gretzel, 2007).

Moderator-Related Utility

Moderator-related utility is received when a third party makes the writing of the review easier for the consumer (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004).
Moderated-related utility was first introduced by Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) and was the second extension of the work of Balasubramanian & Mahajan (2001). Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) suggest that having a moderator present on a platform makes the interaction between a consumer and a company easier, which encourages consumer to spread eWOM. The moderator is a mediator that on behalf of the consumer communicates and interacts with the company. Additionally, the moderator can facilitate the communication in a consumer-to-consumer interaction. The important functions of the platform moderator are, according to Hennig-Thurau et al. (2004) convenience and support to solve product-related problems.

1.0 Introduction. 
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.3 Purpose
1.3.1 Research Questions
1.4 Definitions:
1.4.1 eWOM
1.4.2 Online Reviews
1.4.3 Positive Reviews
1.4.4 Negative Reviews
1.4.5 Motivational factors
1.4.6 Utility
1.5 Contributions
1.6 Delimitations
2. Frame of reference 
2.1 From traditional WOM to eWOM
2.1.1 eWOM
2.2 Online reviews
2.2.1 Usefulness of positive and negative online reviews
2.3 Motivational framework
2.4 Summary of Frame of reference
3.0 Method 
3.1 Research strategy
3.2 Research philosophy
3.3 Research approach
3.4 Data Collection
3.5 Sampling
3.5.1 Sample Selection
3.6 Questionnaire design
3.7 Quality of Research
3.8 Data Analysis
3.8.1 Cronbach’s alpha
3.8.2 Factor analysis
3.8.3 Descriptive statistics
3.9 Limitations of method
4. Results 
4.1 Demographics
4.3 Motivational Factors
4.4 Factor analysis
5.0 Analysis 
5.1 Nominal factors
5.2 Focus-Related Utility
5.3.1 Altruism
5.1.2 Question 5 – Consumption Utility
5.1.3 Approval Utility
5.1.4 Question 8 – Homeostase Utility
5.1.5 Moderator-Related Utility 100%
5.3 Factor analysis
5.4 Summary of analysis
6.0 Conclusion 
7. Discussion 
7.1 Limitations and strengths
7.2 Contributions
7.4 Suggestions for Further Research
List of References
Appendix

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Generation E-commerce: Motivation to Write Positive and Negative Online Reviews

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