She Said, She Said: Differential Interpersonal Similarities Predict Unique Linguistic Mimicry in Online Word of Mouth

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Moore, Sarah G. and Brent McFerran (2017), "She Said, She Said: Differential Interpersonal Similarities Predict Unique Linguistic Mimicry in Online Word of Mouth". Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2 (2), 229-245.

Date created: 
2017-02
Keywords: 
Online word-of-mouth
Linguistic mimicry
Interpersonal similarity
Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)
Abstract: 

This research examines the antecedents, causes, and consequences of linguistic mimicry, which assesses how closely individuals match others’ word use, in online WOM. We examine mimicry of both linguistic style (how things are said) and content (what is said). To our knowledge, this research provides the first demonstration of unique linguistic mimicry, where consumers engaging in online WOM differentially mimic other posters’ word use. Two experiments and one study using field data show that when consumers are personally similar to an individual who has previously posted (e.g., same gender), they mimic this individual’s positive emotion and social word use. When consumers are similar in status to an individual who has previously posted (e.g., same forum ranking), they mimic this individual’s cognitive and descriptive word use. This differential mimicry is driven by affiliation versus achievement goals, respectively, and affects consumers’ engagement in online WOM in terms of posting incidence and volume.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
Rights: 
Rights remain with the authors
File(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
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