The “Buzz” Behind the Buzz Matters: Energetic and Tense Arousal as Separate Motivations for Word of Mouth

Jacob Teeny*, Xiaoyan Deng, H. Rao Unnava

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This research provides a novel theoretical framework to explain the missing mechanism behind one of the strongest predictors for engaging in word of mouth (WOM): the consumer's psychological arousal (i.e., greater arousal leads to greater WOM; e.g., Berger, 2011). Across six studies (N = 1,309), we provide evidence for a motivational theory of the arousal–WOM relationship, highlighting the importance of the WOM's valence (positive vs. negative) as well as the consumer's salient type of arousal (energetic vs. tense; Thayer, 1989). In doing so, we demonstrate that consumers use WOM as an arousal management strategy: They are motivated to engage in positive WOM to maintain or increase their energetic arousal and to engage in negative WOM to reduce or eliminate their tense arousal. These findings also demonstrate the importance of the WOM recipient's response for the WOM source to achieve his/her desired arousal state. Thus, this work both expands our understanding of the arousal–WOM relationship and provides a framework for interpreting past work and conducting future investigations into when and how consumers will engage in WOM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-446
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Energetic
  • Tense
  • Valence
  • Word of mouth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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