How language abstractness affects service referral persuasiveness

De Angelis, M. and Tassiello, V. and Amatulli, C. and Costabile, M. (2016) How language abstractness affects service referral persuasiveness. Journal of Business Research. ISSN 0148-2963

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Due to the inherent risk and uncertainty characterizing pre-purchase service evaluation, consumers tend to rely on referrals from other consumers who already have experiences with that service. Thus, companies are eager to stimulate such referrals and improve their effectiveness. To this end, this research investigates how consumers' linguistic framing of service recommendations influences recipients' attitudes and behavioral intentions. Specifically, this study focuses on one key dimension of language—its abstractness (vs. concreteness)—and hypothesizes that the effect of language abstractness on referral persuasiveness depends on recipients' prior knowledge about the service in question. The results of two experiments in the context of financial and medical services demonstrate that abstract language is more effective than concrete language for recipients with high prior knowledge. Moreover, this research shows that recipients' engagement in mental imagery processing is that makes abstract language more effective for those with high prior knowledge. This articles ends with a discussion of the study's implications for academic research, social communication and service management, along with its limitations and future research directions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Referrals, Services, Language abstractness, Prior knowledge, Mental imagery, Persuasiveness.
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Business School
Depositing User: Vito Tassiello
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2017 11:36
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2017 14:45

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