Compensatory word of mouth: Advice as a device to restore control

Alessandro M. Peluso*, Andrea Bonezzi, Matteo De Angelis, Derek D. Rucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Consumers often give advice by recommending products and services to one another. The present research explores the idea that advice giving sometimes reflects a self-serving desire to compensate for a loss of control. Four experiments provide convergent evidence for a phenomenon we term compensatory word of mouth, whereby consumers' communications contain advice fueled by their own need to restore control. Experiment 1 explores the potential practical relevance of this idea by showing that advertising messages can threaten consumers' sense of control and increase advice giving in word-of-mouth communications. Experiment 2 uses a different paradigm and further demonstrates that a threat to consumers' sense of control increases advice giving. As additional evidence of a compensatory account, Experiment 3 finds that threatened individuals' propensity to give advice is attenuated when they are first given an alternative means to restore a sense of control. Finally, Experiment 4 demonstrates that advice giving can serve a compensatory function by instilling a greater sense of competence that enhances consumers' feelings of control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-515
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Advice giving
  • Compensatory word of mouth
  • Need for control
  • Recommendations
  • Social communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing

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