Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 22, Iss. 1, January, 2018, pp. 103-125
@2018 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Emotions as Proximal Causes of Word of Mouth: A Nonlinear Approach

Rita Rueff Lopes, University Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain
Josť Navarro, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Ana Junca Silva, Instituto Universitario de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Lisboa, Portugal

Abstract: Service research tends to operationalize word of mouth (WOM) behavior as one of the many responses to service satisfaction. In this sense, little is known about its antecedents or moderators. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of customersí emotions during service experiences on WOM, applying nonlinear techniques and exploring the moderating role of customersí propensity for emotional contagion. Using the critical incidents technique, 122 customers recalled significant service experiences and the emotions they aroused, and reported if they shared said experiences with other individuals. We found that, whereas linear methods presented non-significant results in the emotions-WOM relationship, nonlinear ones (artificial neural networks) explained 46% of variance. Negative emotions were stronger predictors of WOM and the importance of emotions for WOM was significantly higher for individuals with high propensity for emotional contagion (R^2 = .79) than for those with lower levels (R^2 = .48). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: word of mouth, emotions, emotional contagion, nonlinear methods