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Home arrow Engineering arrow Measuring Electronic Word-of-Mouth Effectiveness: Developing and Applying the eWOM Trust Scale

Generalizability to individual Customer Reviews

One of the claims of advertising research is that a consumer’s attitude towards advertising in general influences his/her attitude towards specific ads. An early but nevertheless very profound contribution has here been made by Lutz (1985), who identifies five antecedents of attitude toward the ad: (1) ad credibility, (2) ad perceptions, (3) attitude toward the advertiser, (4) attitude toward advertising in general, and (5) mood (Durvasula et al., 1993). This conceptualization also finds empirical support. For instance, Donthu et al. (1993) suggest that consumers who have a positive attitude towards advertising are more likely to recall more advertisements than persons with a more negative general attitude. In a similar manner, James and Kover (1992) find out that persons who are willing to spend more time looking at print advertisements are also characterized by a positive general attitude. A similar result is provided by Mehta (2000). He further advances that the more consumers perceive advertising as truthful or not manipulative, the more likely they are persuaded by individual ads. Simultaneously, there exists further empirical evidence for a positive correlation between perceptions of general advertising credibility and perceptions of the credibility of individual advertisements (MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989). This thesis has conceptualized attitude towards reviews in general (RAtt) by borrowing from above-cited literature and it seems reasonable that the same relationships hold true in the eWOM context. RAtt has been defined as conceptually distinct from eWOM trust, such as measured review credibility in general (RCred). However, both concepts represent critical elements of eWOM trust such that one should expect some relationship between eWOM trust in general and consumer attitudes towards individual customer reviews. However, it is not assumed that eWOM trust as a generalized attitude will be able to make perfect predictions about the perceptions of individual reviews. Hence, it is possible that an eWOM high-truster may not believe every claim made in reviews. Similarly, it is also very unlikely that low-trusters necessarily disbelieve all review claims. Rather, the concept describes tendencies that affect reactions. While it is recognized that situational factors (e.g., message characteristics) are likely to play an important role for the acceptance of specific messages (Obermiller & Spangenberg, 1998; Soh, 2007) or reviews, it is assumed that consumers with heightened levels of eWOM trust (in general) are (a) more willing to rely on (trust) specific customer reviews and also (b) exhibit more positive attitudes towards them compared to individuals scoring low on this personal difference factor. In order to clarify this relationship, the following research questions are addressed:

RQ 10: Is eWOM trust in general significantly and positively related to eWOM trust in individual customer reviews?

RQ 11: Is eWOM trust in general significantly and positively related to attitude towards individual customer reviews?

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