How content acquisition method affects word of mouth

Zoey Chen, Jonah Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


People often share word of mouth with others, and such social sharing is an integral part of everyday life. But the content (e.g., stories, news, information) that people transmit can be acquired in different ways. Sometimes people find content themselves, and other times people receive content from others (e.g., via email or conversation). Might these different acquisition methods impact subsequent sharing, and if so, how? Six studies demonstrate that acquisition method can impact transmission through changing how content is processed. Compared to received content, people are more likely to associate found content with themselves, which decreases processing. Reduced processing, in turn, lowers sensitivity to diagnostic content characteristics (e.g., whether content is interesting or well written), which reduces these characteristics' impact on sharing. Thus while receivers are more likely to share interesting (than boring) content, the difference is attenuated (and in some cases, disappeared) among finders. These findings deepen insights into the psychological drivers of word of mouth and shed light on how contextual factors, content characteristics, and the self interact to drive social transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-102
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Interpersonal communication
  • Social sharing
  • Word of mouth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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