Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication


Journalism and Mass Communication

First Advisor

Michael F. Dahlstrom


Online reviews are one example of electronic word of mouth messaging (eWOM), which research has shown plays an important role in purchasing decisions for consumers. Yet most eWOM research has ignored the potential effect of specific message and source features within the messages themselves. This study used a narrative lens to explore how the presence of a similar and explicitly identified character influences perceived trustworthiness of the reviews, as well as overall attitudes and purchase intention toward products. A mixed design experiment was conducted to test effects of character presence, as well as types of appeal, positive and negative valence, and product involvement in online review messages. Character presence was found to increase perceived trustworthiness and brand attitudes, but only for low-involvement products. Rational appeals and negative valenced reviews were also seen as more trustworthy, yet these main effects were complicated by a three-way interaction that suggests the effects of message features in eWOM reviews are complex and require more research to explore their nuances.

Copyright Owner

Xiaowen Zhu



File Format


File Size

52 pages