The Images of eWOM: A multi-study thesis by publication

Robert Zinko, The University of Notre Dame Australia


The body of publications presented offers a fundamental understanding of the relationship between images and text in eWOM. First, a publication is presented that demonstrates the effect that images have on text reviews. Using both hedonic and utilitarian products, it is shown that adding images to a review increases trust and purchase intent in consumers. As hypothesised, images for hedonic products have a larger effect on outcomes. Next, an attempt was made to ascertain how different numbers of images might affect trust, purchase intent, and perceived information quality. Here, it was found that the number of images was not a factor (i.e., as long as an image was present). The third publication is a three-study examination that explores the relationship between text and image by varying both text and image (i.e., presenting positive, neutral, and negative text, matched with positive, neutral, and negative images), using the products of fast food, cruise ships, and hotels. The results, logically, show that when images and text varied too greatly, negative outcomes can be expected. Finally, the forth publication uses the knowledge gleaned in the prior publications to address an issue in the eWOM literature---that of information quality. Results show that images are useful when too little information is presented in the text (i.e., as they presented more information to the reader) and also when too much information is presented in the text (i.e., as individuals would often not read the entire review---but with images, they are potentially presented with the information that they overlooked in the excessive textual reviews). The combination of these four publications is by no means an exhaustive catalogue of information about images and eWOM, but rather are presented as a robust starting point into the exploration into the relationship between images and text in eWOM.