טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentKim Laronne
SubjectDid not Expect It from You! The Effect of Source Typicality
on Perceived Message Originality, Persuasion and
WOM
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Dr. Shalev Edith
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Originality is an important construct for both persuasion and Word-of-Mouth transmission, as original messages stand out in the clutter of all other marketing messages, catch attention and elicit interest. Increased attention and interest, in turn, allow attitude change and persuasion, increase engagement, and encourage Word-Of-Mouth. But what makes messages and ideas appear original? And more interestingly, how can the same message be perceived as more or less original?

Here, we propose that the source of a message can elicit surprise, which in turn would transfer to the message and enhance its perceived originality. To be surprising, the source of the message should be atypical, i.e. deviate from his group's prototype in some way. For example, when a religious man advocates gay marriage, or when the leader of a left wing party asserts that elective abortion is a crime, the receiver's expectations are violated and surprise takes place. We suggest that the surprise induced by the atypical source will enhance the message's perceived originality. Perceived originality, in turn, should increase persuasion and intentions to pass the message forward. We test and find support for our hypotheses across three experimental studies. In study 1, focusing on attitudes regarding gun rights, we find that perceived message originality is higher when the source is atypical vs. typical, and that perceived originality mediated the effect of source typicality on cognitive unfreezing - a proxy for persuasion. In study 2, focusing on attitudes regarding the US economy, we corroborate the findings of study 1 and demonstrate that source typicality affects perceived message originality, which in turn affects attitude change. Study 3 employed an original attitude regarding the gender pay-gap, and provides additional support for the findings of studies 1 and 2. It also demonstrates the effect of source typicality on Word-Of-Mouth intentions through perceived message originality.

We contribute to previous works in the field of creativity, by emphasizing a specific factor which affects originality perception and assessment. Furthermore, previous research has shown that an atypical source induces persuasion as she is perceived as more sincere and trustworthy (Eagly, Wood & Chaiken, 1978). Here, we provide an alternative explanation to the effect of source typicality on persuasion, and demonstrate that this effect manifests despite the insignificant effect on perceived source credibility, through perceived message originality.