Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Moore School of Business

Sub-Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Priyali Rajagopal

Abstract

Social sharing is universal in everyday life. Every day consumers share news, opinions, and personal experiences using different media, including face-to-face communications, cellphones, texting, email, and other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). Word-of-Mouth, a common type of social sharing has been found to be fundamental to marketing and has been shown to significantly impact firms’ sales and revenues. However little is known about the effects of WOM on consumer memories. Since consumer memory is an important variable in marketing due to its significant impact on consumer judgments and decisions, my dissertation addresses this gap and examines the effects of social sharing on consumer memory. Specifically, essay 1 considers whether the retelling of consumption experiences with others enhances or decays memory for that experience, while essay 2 considers the differences between the retelling of experiences with human partners versus technological partners (e.g. Facebook, Blogging, Review sites).

Traditional memory literature predicts an enhancement effect after social sharing based on the fact that retelling promotes memory rehearsal, and thereby enhances memory accessibility. However, in Essay 1, I propose and document a “forgetting-aftersharing effect” due to memory outsourcing. Across five studies, I find that when people share identity relevant experiences (versus control) with close (distant) others, they forget (remember) the details of the experience (studies 1-3), because of outsourcing the details of their memories to a memory cloud (rehearsal) - study 4. Thus, sharing can enhance or decrease memory for the shared event depending on the type of event shared (identity relevance, valence) and who the event is shared with (e.g. close friend versus distant stranger human vs technology – study 5).

As people adapt to sharing with technological partners (e.g. social media), researchers are not clear how aspects of the technological partners can change the way the shared information is remembered. In essay 2, I focus on examining whether and when technological devices may function like human partners to create a memory cloud, and find significant differences between sharing with humans versus technologies. Specifically, I find that technologies work like distant human sharing partners (e.g. acquaintances) rather than close friends and hence do not lead to memory decay (study 1). However, anthropomorphizing technologies makes them similar to close human partners, leading to memory outsourcing and subsequent memory decay and attitude strength dilution (study 2), but altering the accessibility of the anthropomorphized technology attenuates this memory decay (study 3). Finally, I find that memory outsourcing to technology is driven by perceptions of partner quality and that changing the roles anthropomorphized technologies play (partner versus servant) can impact (amplify or mitigate) memory outsourcing and thereby memory decay (Study 4).

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