Informational and Relational Influences on Electronic Word of Mouth: An Empirical Study of an Online Consumer Discussion Forum

Hung-pin Shih, Kee-hung Lai, and T.C.E. Cheng
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 17, Number 4, Spring 2013, pp. 137-166.

Abstract: In the face of market competition and growing digitization in commerce, electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) communication has become increasingly important in shaping consumer attitudes and behaviors. We consider eWOM communication not only as an information exchange but also as a social exchange via online consumer discussion forums. Thus, we take a dual view of online communication, considering both its informational and relational influences, to predict eWOM behaviors. We propose a theoretical model, grounded in the elaboration likelihood model, the motivation-opportunity-ability framework, and constraint-based and dedication-based relationships, to predict eWOM intention. We test this model by surveying users of an online discussion forum. Our empirical results indicate that dedication-based relational influence is more significant than informational influence in driving online referral behaviors. A dedication-based relationship has a stronger effect on eWOM intention than does a constraint-based relationship. Moreover, affective attitudes rather than cognitive attitudes significantly determine eWOM intention.

Key Words and Phrases: Constraint-based relationship, consumer discussion forums, dedication-based relationship, elaboration likelihood model, electronic word of mouth (eWOM), informational influence, MOA framework, relational influence.