Customer Needs and Solutions

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 56–67 | Cite as

No Man is an Island: the Effect of Social Presence on Negative Word of Mouth Intention in Service Failures

  • Yi He
  • Miao Hu
  • Qimei Chen
  • Dana L. Alden
  • Wei HeEmail author
Research Article


Human life experience is constantly shaped by the impact of the presence of others. In this paper, using five studies, we demonstrate that social presence plays a crucial role in how consumers respond to a service failure. Specifically, studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that social presence prompts higher negative word-of-mouth (NWOM) intentions among consumers after a service failure compared with when they are alone—and that this effect is driven by a frustration-aggression mechanism. Study 3 further shows that self-affirmation can effectively mitigate the social presence effect by suppressing frustration-aggression. Finally, studies 4a and 4b reveal that a sense of entitlement critically moderates the effects of social presence such that participants primed with entitlement show stronger effects of social presence compared with no entitlement prime. These findings provide intriguing insights into the underlying process of social presence effects on NWOM intention and have important theoretical implications for the literatures of service failure, WOM, and social presence, as well as important managerial implications to help marketers manage their frontline interactions with consumers, especially after a service failure.


Service failures Word-of-mouth Social presence Frustration-aggression 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material


(MP4 2816 kb)


  1. 1.
    Alexandrov A, Lilly B, Babakus E (2013) The effects of social- and self-motives on the intentions to share positive and negative word of mouth. J Acad Mark Sci 41(5):531–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anderson EW (1998) Customer satisfaction and word of mouth. J Serv Res 1(1):5–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anderson CA, Carnagey NL, Eubanks J (2003) Exposure to violent media: the effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings. J Pers Soc Psychol 84(5):960–971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Angelis MD, Bonezzi A, Peluso AM, Rucker DD, Costabile M (2012) On braggarts and gossips: a self-enhancement account of word-of-mouth generation and transmission. J Mark Res 49(4):551–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Argo JJ, Dahl DW, Manchanda RV (2005) The influence of a mere social presence in a retail context. J Consum Res 32(3):207–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baker J, Parasuraman A, Grewal D, Voss GB (2002) The influence of multiple store environment cues on perceived merchandise value and patronage intentions. J Mark 66(2):120–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bateson JE, Hui MK (1992) The ecological validity of photographic slides and videotapes in simulating the service setting. J Consum Res 19(2):271–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Baumeister RF (1982) A self-presentational view of social phenomena. Psychol Bull 91(1):3–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baumeister RF, Smart L, Boden JM (1996) Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: the dark side of high self-esteem. Psychol Rev 103(1):5–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Berger J (2014) Word of mouth and interpersonal communication: a review and directions for future research. J Consum Psychol 24(4):586–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Berkowitz L (1989) Frustration-aggression hypothesis: examination and reformulation. Psychol Bull 106(1):59–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bonifield C, Cole CA (2008) Better him than me: social comparison theory and service recovery. J Acad Mark Sci 36(4):565–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Boyd HC III, Helms JE (2005) Consumer entitlement theory and measurement. Psychol Mark 22(3):271–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brocato ED, Voorhees CM, Baker J (2012) Understanding the influence of cues from other customers in the service experience: a scale development and validation. J Retail 88(3):384–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Buck R (1984) The communication of emotion. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bushman BJ, Baumeister RF (1998) Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: does self-love or self-hate lead to violence? J Pers Soc Psychol 75(1):219–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Campbell WK, Bonacci AM, Shelton J, Exline JJ, Bushman BJ (2004) Psychological entitlement: interpersonal consequences and validation of a self-report measure. J Pers Assess 83(1):29–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Cheung M, Anitsal M, Anitsal I (2007) Revisiting word-of-mouth communications: a cross-national exploration. J Mark Theory Pract 15(3):235–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cohen GL, Aronson J, Steele CM (2000) When beliefs yield to evidence: reducing biased evaluation by affirming the self. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 26(9):1151–1164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Costa M, Dinsbach W, Manstead AS, Bitti PE (2001) Social presence, embarrassment, and nonverbal behavior. J Nonverbal Behav 25(4):225–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dahl DW, Manchanda RV, Argo JJ (2001) Embarrassment in consumer purchase: the roles of social presence and purchase familiarity. J Consum Res 28(3):473–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dollard J, Miller NE, Doob LW, Mowrer OH, Sears RR (1939) Frustration and aggression. Pub. for the Institute of human relations by Yale University press, New HavenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Dong B, Evans KR, Zou S (2007) The effects of customer participation in co-created service recovery. J Acad Mark Sci 36(1):123–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Du J, Fan X, Feng T (2011) Multiple emotional contagions in service encounters. J Acad Mark Sci 39(3):449–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Dunn L, Dahl DW (2012) Self-threat and product failure: how internal attributions of blame affect consumer complaining behavior. J Mark Res 49(5):670–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Duval S, Wicklund RA (1972) A theory of objective self-awareness. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Exline JJ, Baumeister RF, Bushman BJ, Campbell WK, Finkel EJ (2004) Too proud to let go: narcissistic entitlement as a barrier to forgiveness. J Pers Soc Psychol 87(6):894–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Fein S, Spencer SJ (1997) Prejudice as self-image maintenance: affirming the self through derogating others. J Pers Soc Psychol 73(1):31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fisher R, Dubé L (2005) Gender differences in responses to emotional advertising: a social desirability perspective. J Consum Res 31(4):850–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Friedman HS, Miller-Herringer T (1991) Nonverbal display of emotion in public and in private: self-monitoring, personality, and expressive cues. J Pers Soc Psychol 61(5):766–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Fyrberg A, Jüriado R (2009) What about interaction? Networks and brands as integrators within a service-dominant logic. J Serv Manag 20(4):420–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Gao L, Wheeler SC, Shiv B (2009) The ‘Shaken Self’: product choices as a means of restoring self-view confidence. J Consum Res 36(1):29–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gelbrich K (2010) Anger, frustration, and helplessness after service failure: coping strategies and effective informational support. J Acad Mark Sci 38(1):567–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Grégoire Y, Fisher RJ (2006) The effects of relationship quality on customer retaliation. Mark Lett 17(1):31–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Harvey P, Martinko MJ (2009) An empirical examination of the role of attributions in psychological entitlement and its outcomes. J Organ Behav 30:459–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    He Y, Chen Q, Alden DL (2012) Social presence and service satisfaction: the moderating role of cultural value-orientation. J Consum Behav 11(2):170–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Higgins ET (1987) Self-discrepancy: a theory relating self and affect. Psychol Rev 94(3):319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Keltner D, Buswell BN (1997) Embarrassment: its distinct form and appeasement functions. Psychol Bull 122(3):250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Konrath S, Bushman BJ, Campbell WK (2006) Attenuating the Link between Threatened Egotism and Aggression. Psychol Sci 17(11):995–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Laczniak RN, DeCarlo TE, Ramaswami SN (2001) Consumers’ responses to negative word-of-mouth communication: an attribution theory perspective. J Consum Psychol 11(1):57–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Landa CE, Bybee JA (2007) Adaptive elements of aging: self-image discrepancy, perfectionism, and eating problems. Dev Psychol 43(1):83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Laros FJ, Steenkamp JE (2005) Emotions in consumer behavior: a hierarchical approach. J Bus Res 58(10):1437–1445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Leary MR, Terry ML, Allen AB, Tate EB (2009) The concept of ego threat in social and personality psychology: is ego threat a viable scientific construct? Personal Soc Psychol Rev 13(3):151–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mangleburg TF, Doney PM, Bristol T (2004) shopping with friends and teens’ susceptibility to peer influence. J Retail 80(2):101–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Matos CA, Rossi CA (2008) Word-of-mouth communications in marketing: a meta-analytic review of the antecedents and moderators. J Acad Mark Sci 36(4):578–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    McCullough ME, Emmons RA, Kilpatrick SD, Mooney CN (2003) Narcissists as ‘Victims’: the role of narcissism in the perception of transgressions. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 29(7):885–893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Modigliani A (1971) Embarrassment, facework, and eye contact: testing a theory of embarrassment. J Pers Soc Psychol 17(1):15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Morf CC, Rhodewalt F (2001) Unraveling the paradoxes of narcissism: a dynamic self-regulatory processing model. Psychol Inq 12(4):177–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Morin S, Dubé L, Chebat J (2007) The role of pleasant music in servicescapes: a test of the dual model of environmental perception. J Retail 83(1):115–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Nejad MG, Amini M, Sherrell DL (2016) The profit impact of revenue heterogeneity and assortativity in the presence of negative word-of-mouth. Int J Res Mark 33(3):656–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    O’Brien EH, Anastasio PA, Bushman BJ (2011) Time crawls when you’re not having fun feeling entitled makes dull tasks drag on. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 37(10):1287–1296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Patterson PG, Cowley E, Prasongsukarn K (2006) Service failure recovery: the moderating impact of individual-level cultural value orientation on perceptions of justice. Int J Res Mark 23(3):263–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Phillips DM, Baumgartner H (2002) The role of consumption emotions in the satisfaction response. J Consum Psychol 12(3):243–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Pincus J (2004) The consequences of unmet needs: the evolving role of motivation in consumer research. J Consum Behav 3(4):375–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Puntoni S, Tavassoli NT (2007) Social context and advertising memory. J Mark Res 44(2):294–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Richins ML (1983) Negative word-of-mouth by dissatisfied consumers: a pilot study. J Mark 47:68–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Seta JJ, Crisson JE, Seta CE, Wang MA (1989) Task performance and perceptions of anxiety: averaging and summation in an evaluative setting. J Pers Soc Psychol 56(3):387–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Shrira I, Martin LL (2005) Stereotyping, self-affirmation, and the cerebral hemispheres. Personal Soc Psychol Bull 31(6):846–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Smith AK, Bolton RN (1998) An experimental investigation of customer reactions to service failure and recovery encounters paradox or peril? J Serv Res 1(1):65–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Smith AK, Bolton RN (2002) The effect of customers’ emotional responses to service failures on their recovery effort evaluations and satisfaction judgments. J Acad Mark Sci 30(1):5–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Smith AK, Bolton RN, Wagner J (1999) A model of customer satisfaction with service encounters involving failure and recovery. J Mark Res 36:356–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Steele CM (1988) The psychology of self-affirmation: sustaining the integrity of the self. Adv Exp Soc Psychol 21(2):261–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Stephen AT, Lehmann DR (2016) How word-of-mouth transmission encouragement affects consumers’ transmission decisions, receiver selection, and diffusion speed. Int J Res Mark 33(4):755–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Sundaram DS, Mitra K, Webster C (1998) Word-of-mouth communications: a motivational analysis. Adv Consum Res 25(1):527–531Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Surachartkumtonkun J, Patterson PG, McColl-Kennedy JR (2012) Customer rage back-story: linking needs-based cognitive appraisal to service failure type. J Retail 89(1):72–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Thomaes S, Bushman BJ, Castro BO, Cohen GL, Denissen JJ (2009) Reducing narcissistic aggression by buttressing self-esteem: an experimental field study. Psychol Sci 20(12):1536–1542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Trusov M, Bucklin RE, Pauwels K (2009) Effects of word-of-mouth versus traditional marketing: findings from an internet social networking site. J Mark 73(1):90–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Verhoef PC, Lemon KN, Parasuraman A, Roggeveen A, Tsiros M, Schlesinger LA (2009) Customer experience creation: determinants, dynamics and management strategies. J Retail 85(1):31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Webster JM, Duvall J, Gaines LM, Smith RH (2003) The roles of praise and social comparison information in the experience of pride. J Soc Psychol 143(2):209–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Weinberger D, Davidson MN (1994) Styles of inhibiting emotional expression: distinguishing repressive coping from impression management. J Pers 62(1):587–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Westbrook RA (1987) Product/consumption-based affective responses and postpurchase processes. J Mark Res 24:258–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Yi S, Baumgartner H (2004) Coping with negative emotions in purchase-related situations. J Consum Psychol 14(3):303–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Zhang Y, Feick L, Mittal V (2014) How males and females differ in their likelihood of transmitting negative word of mouth. J Consum Res 40(6):1097–1108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Zhao X, Lynch JG, Chen Q (2010) Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. J Consum Res 37(2):197–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Zhu Z, Nakata C, Sivakumar K, Grewal D (2013) Fix it or leave it? customer recovery from self-service technology failures. J Retail 89(1):15–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Zhuang G, Tsang AS, Zhou N, Li F, Nicholls JA (2006) Impacts of situational factors on buying decisions in shopping malls: an empirical study with multinational data. Eur J Mark 40(1):17–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Zitek EM, Jordan AH, Monin B, Leach FR (2010) Victim entitlement to behave selfishly. J Pers Soc Psychol 98(2):245CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi He
    • 1
  • Miao Hu
    • 2
  • Qimei Chen
    • 2
  • Dana L. Alden
    • 2
  • Wei He
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Business and EconomicsCalifornia State University, East BayHaywardUSA
  2. 2.Shidler College of BusinessUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.School of Management and EconomicsUniversity of Electronic Science and Technology of ChinaChengduChina

Personalised recommendations