The referral backfire effect: The identity-threatening nature of referral failure

B. Claus, K. Geyskens, K. Millet, S. Dewitte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The present paper shows that when a person has the experience of giving advice but that advice is not acted upon, there is a reduced openness to external information. We call this the "referral backfire effect". We argue that this referral backfire effect is due to the identity threatening nature of referral failure: the referral back-fire effect is attenuated (1) when the sender perceives oneself as having low expertise in the particular domain of referral and (2) upon self-affirmation. Accordingly, implicit egotism is increased after referral failure, reflecting the need to bolster the self against threat. Because referral behavior is considered to be an important predictor of business success, we discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice and sketch future research opportunities. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-379
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Word of mouth
  • Referral failure
  • Identity threat
  • Social influence
  • Self-bolstering
  • WORD-OF-MOUTH
  • SELF-AFFIRMATION
  • THEORY PERSPECTIVE
  • IMPLICIT EGOTISM
  • HEALTH MESSAGES
  • CONSUMERS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • MODEL
  • MARKETPLACE
  • PREFERENCES

Cite this

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title = "The referral backfire effect: The identity-threatening nature of referral failure",
abstract = "The present paper shows that when a person has the experience of giving advice but that advice is not acted upon, there is a reduced openness to external information. We call this the {"}referral backfire effect{"}. We argue that this referral backfire effect is due to the identity threatening nature of referral failure: the referral back-fire effect is attenuated (1) when the sender perceives oneself as having low expertise in the particular domain of referral and (2) upon self-affirmation. Accordingly, implicit egotism is increased after referral failure, reflecting the need to bolster the self against threat. Because referral behavior is considered to be an important predictor of business success, we discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice and sketch future research opportunities. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.",
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The referral backfire effect: The identity-threatening nature of referral failure. / Claus, B.; Geyskens, K.; Millet, K.; Dewitte, S.

In: International Journal of Research in Marketing, Vol. 29, No. 4, 12.2012, p. 370-379.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The referral backfire effect: The identity-threatening nature of referral failure

AU - Claus, B.

AU - Geyskens, K.

AU - Millet, K.

AU - Dewitte, S.

PY - 2012/12

Y1 - 2012/12

N2 - The present paper shows that when a person has the experience of giving advice but that advice is not acted upon, there is a reduced openness to external information. We call this the "referral backfire effect". We argue that this referral backfire effect is due to the identity threatening nature of referral failure: the referral back-fire effect is attenuated (1) when the sender perceives oneself as having low expertise in the particular domain of referral and (2) upon self-affirmation. Accordingly, implicit egotism is increased after referral failure, reflecting the need to bolster the self against threat. Because referral behavior is considered to be an important predictor of business success, we discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice and sketch future research opportunities. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

AB - The present paper shows that when a person has the experience of giving advice but that advice is not acted upon, there is a reduced openness to external information. We call this the "referral backfire effect". We argue that this referral backfire effect is due to the identity threatening nature of referral failure: the referral back-fire effect is attenuated (1) when the sender perceives oneself as having low expertise in the particular domain of referral and (2) upon self-affirmation. Accordingly, implicit egotism is increased after referral failure, reflecting the need to bolster the self against threat. Because referral behavior is considered to be an important predictor of business success, we discuss the implications of our findings for both theory and practice and sketch future research opportunities. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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