Purpose As fake information has become the norm on the internet, it is important to investigate how skepticism impacts an individual’s attitude toward word-of-mouth. This study examines eWOM skepticism via three dimensions: suspicion of motivation, suspicion of truthfulness and suspicion of identity. It investigates not only which of the three dimensions is more influential in eWOM situations but also the variations and relationships among these three. Furthermore, this study evaluates how an individual’s dispositional trust and perceptions regarding structural assurance can impact each dimension, which in turn affects the assessment of the eWOM messages’ credibility. Design/methodology/approach Using an online scenario-based survey, data were collected via Amazon Mechanical Turk from 195 participants in the U.S. PLS and cluster analysis were used to analyze the data. Findings The results reveal that the suspicion of identity play a major role in message credibility assessment and that people who are naturally less likely to trust others also hold higher suspicion of motivation and truthfulness. Further, structural assurance has significant negative effects on all three dimensions. Practical implications The findings highlight the importance of enhancing the protective measures on eWOM platforms and call for stricter regulations to prevent organizations from adopting deceptive eWOM propagandas. Originality/value This research contributes to the literature by exploring the impact of skepticism on eWOM message credibility assessment and helping to validate this newly created construct by considering eWOM skepticism as a formative construct.
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DOI 10.1108/jices-12-2019-0135
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