University of Twente Student Theses


Online interventions in consumer conflicts : the effect of type of information on prosocial conflict behaviour

Overduin, J.S. (2015) Online interventions in consumer conflicts : the effect of type of information on prosocial conflict behaviour.

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Abstract:With the increasing usage of online webshops, online consumer conflicts also occur more often. People who experience this kind of conflict often look for information and advice. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of legitimizing information versus social proof information on the degree of prosocial behaviour. The goal of this prosocial behaviour is to maximise conflict outcomes for oneself as well as the opposing party. Moreover, positive affect is taken into account as a mediator of the effect of type of information on prosocial behaviour, and dependence asymmetry as a moderator of the relationship between positive affect and prosocial behaviour. An online experiment was conducted with 197 participants buying a giftcard in the experimental setting. A conflict was staged by delivering a non-valid code twice. Dependence asymmetry was manipulated by either or not providing the possibility to write a public review of the seller. This manipulation did not succeed in the student sample, therefore analysis were conducted solely on the convenience sample. Participants received legitimizing information or social proof information. Next, they interacted with the seller. In conclusion, the current research adds to existing knowledge in intrapersonal processes within online consumer conflicts. The results seem to indicate that social proof causes more positive affect than legitimizing information. This positive affect can cause prosocial behaviour, though only in case of low asymmetrical dependency. However participants who reported higher positive affect also reported more negative affect, only positive affect was related to more active communication behaviour. Furthermore, reading information, versus not reading information encouraged participants to write more about social others. Moreover, the mechanisms of social proof and legitimizing differentiated on several aspects. Whereas social proof made participants feel less on their own in the conflict, legitimizing did not. Confidence was also strengthened by social proof. Furthermore, social proof seemed to make people feel supported and stronger, which is in line with Festinger (1954). Further research on information processes within consumer conflicts is recommended, to provide more insight in experiences and behaviour in these situations. An important remaining question is how people could be influenced by different types of information and how prosocial behaviour can be stimulated. Answering these questions would provide important knowledge to Dutch legal aid to help both their clients and sellers to reach a satisfying solution.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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