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Does language shape the mind? Linguistic fluency and perception of service quality

Jong Min Kim (College of Business and Public Management, Wenzhou-Kean University, Wenzhou, China)
Sungjun (Steven) Park (Department of Business Administration, National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taipei, Taiwan)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 31 October 2022

Issue publication date: 14 February 2023

521

Abstract

Purpose

As services are inherently inseparable from service providers, linguistic effects are likely to occur during service encounters between service marketers and consumers. However, this study’s current understanding is still limited regarding how or why a language shapes consumers’ perceptions of service quality. To fill this gap, this paper aims to provide foundational evidence by examining how linguistic fluency affects consumers’ perceptions of service quality.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents two multimethod studies. Study 1 compared online review ratings from 61,194 consumers living in native and nonnative English-speaking countries. Study 2 further clarified the mediating role of negative emotions between linguistic disfluency and perceptions of service quality by analyzing questionnaires from 399 nonnative English speakers.

Findings

The results of the two multimethod studies show that linguistic processing can misrepresent the true quality of services due to linguistic disfluency by nonnative English speakers. This paper’s findings integrate the literature on linguistic fluency, emotional psychology and service marketing to yield insights that might be challenging to gain by relying on only one of those disciplines independently.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper provides the first empirical evidence on systematic differences between native and nonnative English speakers’ decision-making styles related to their perceptions of quality. Also, methodologically, this study provides corroborating empirical evidence from two multimethod studies. Moreover, this paper expands our current knowledge through an integrated examination of relevant literature in the fields of linguistic fluency, emotional psychology and service marketing to provide more comprehensive insights.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in Taiwan (MOST 109-2410-H-004 -066 -MY3).

Citation

Kim, J.M. and Park, S.(S). (2023), "Does language shape the mind? Linguistic fluency and perception of service quality", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 53-64. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-11-2021-0431

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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