When you're launching a business, certainly one way you hope to catch on with customers is through word of mouth. But what is it about a company -- or even a cat video -- that inspires people to click that share button or email that link?
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, it's a feeling of ownership that makes a difference in what we decide send out into the world.
Through a series of experiments, Zoey Chen, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami, and Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found that people were more likely to share a piece of content if they found it themselves, rather than if someone else sent it to them.
"The act of finding causes people to associate the content with the self. And since people tend to have high self-esteem, and thus feel an elevated sense of certainty and trust for self-associated things, they are less likely to deeply process found content," the authors explained.
Not only that, but people are more discerning about an article's quality if it comes from an outside source than they are if they just happen upon it themselves and find it intriguing.
"People are more willing to share an interesting article than a boring one when they received those articles, for example, but this difference attenuates (and in some cases, disappears) when they feel like they found those articles themselves,” Chen and Berger wrote.