Do People Prefer to Pass Along Good or Bad News? Valence and Relevance of News as Predictors of Transmission Propensity
Author: Heath C.
Source: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 68, Number 2, November 1996 , pp. 79-94(16)
Publisher: Academic Press
Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that exaggeratedly bad news may propagate in the marketplace of ideas. Three studies investigate whether people prefer to pass along pieces of bad news or good news that are equated for "surprisingness." People typically prefer to pass along central rather than extreme information (i.e., news that is less surprising rather than more surprising). However, when confronted with extreme information, the results support a preference for congruence, that is, people prefer to pass along news that is congruent with the emotional valence of the domain in question. This means that in emotionally negative domains, contrary to some theoretical predictions, people are willing to pass along bad news even when it is exaggeratedly bad. At the same time, however, people transmit exaggeratedly good news in emotionally positive domains. The general discussion indicates how these results may inform research on word of mouth for consumer products and social relations in organizations.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: University of Chicago
Publication date: 1996-11-01