Rapport with a chatbot? The underlying role of anthropomorphism in socio-cognitive perceptions of rapport and e-word of mouth

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Abstract

This study examines the impact of rapport with chatbots on electronic word of mouth (e-WOM), in the first phase, by considering several antecedents including anthropomorphism. In the second phase, deeper insights are provided into the moderated mediation role of rapport and the moderated moderation effect of value creation and hedonic motivation on e-WOM engagement. With tourism services as the research context, a survey was conducted among 257 visitors from three countries (China, India and New Zealand), selected due to their diverse cultural backgrounds and higher number of inbound visitors to Australia. The partial least squares method was used for data analysis along with multi-group analysis. Findings report the positive role of anthropomorphism in developing rapport with chatbots in digital interactions. Interestingly, rapport had the highest moderated mediation impact in the data from China followed by the data from India. The moderated moderation impact of hedonic motivation was only significant in the data from China, whereas value creation was a significant moderator in the data from both China and New Zealand. The study extends social exchange theory in a human–chatbot or artificial intelligence (AI) interaction context with cultural implications. The findings are useful for organizations relying on customer rapport with AI-based chatbots to ensure long-term customer service through digital interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Volume77
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 2024

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