Beyond the Credibility of Electronic Word of Mouth: Exploring eWOM Adoption on Social Networking Sites from Affective and Curiosity Perspectives

Yu-Hui Fang
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 18, Number 3, Spring 2014, pp. 67-102.

Abstract:  Social networking sites (SNSs) are one of the Web 2.0’s most utilized services, and the influential force of electronic word of mouth (eWOM) on SNSs deserves our unequivocal attention. This study aims to explore how users of SNSs adopt information embedded in eWOM reviews shared by other users. Using the stimulus-organism-response model and affect-as-information theory, we devised and tested a theoretical framework linking both a cognitive path and an affective path to approach eWOM adoption on SNSs. Two curiosity constructs—informational deprivation epistemic curiosity (D‑EC) and interest-type epistemic curiosity (I‑EC)—are regarded as moderators of the cognitive path and the affective path, respectively. Data collected from 445 respondents support all of our hypotheses. The results show that beyond the conventional cognitive path (cognitive stimuli and the credibility of eWOM), the affective path (affective stimuli and arousal) can also contribute to eWOM adoption. We also find that SNS users focus on different stimuli of SNSs, depending on their levels of D‑EC and I‑EC. Our findings provide new perspectives to SNS designers and users on how to manage eWOM reviews on SNSs.

Key Words and Phrases:  Affect-as-information theory, eWOM, eWOM adoption, online reviews, social networking sites, stimulus-organism-response (S‑O‑R) model, theory of curiosity.