In the current research, we study relationship norms in a word-of-mouth marketing context. The presence of a financial incentive for a recommendation implies that the word-of-mouth behavior may be driven by ulterior motives. This setting triggers both friendship (Equality Matching; EM) and sales (Market Pricing; MP) relationship norms. However, the evaluation of the recommendation depends crucially on the relationship norm activated during the interaction. We show that, compared to MP relationship norms, activating EM norms leads to less sincere agent evaluations, but at the same time to higher intentions to comply with the target offer. We show that these norms can be activated outside awareness and influence our evaluations of interaction partners in a cognitively efficient manner. A second study shows that disclosing the financial motive has a positive effect on agent evaluations, but only when the recommendation target can devote full attention to the interaction.

Additional Metadata
Keywords disclosure of ulterior motive, relationship norms, rewarded recommendations, word-of-mouth
JEL Statistical Decision Theory; Operations Research (jel C44), Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting (jel M), Marketing (jel M31)
Publisher Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Persistent URL
Series ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Journal ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Tuk, M.A, Verlegh, P.W.J, Smidts, A, & Wigboldus, D.H.J. (2008). Sales and Sincerity: The Role of Relational Framing in Word-of-Mouth Marketing (No. ERS-2008-056-MKT). ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from