PhD candidate, Ashleigh Druce discusses her endeavour to better understand the contemporary motivators that drive word-of- mouth behaviour.
Druce is an active contributor to the RMIT Behavioural Business Lab; a multidisciplinary team whose research bridges the boundaries between the social sciences. She shares her fascination with complex motivators of consumer behaviours that form the foundation of her PhD research.
What is your current research/teaching focus?
My PhD research is primarily concerned with word-of- mouth behaviour. In particular, I am interested in what drives people to share their opinions online, as well as what makes us decide to share content with others on social media.
I was also been lucky enough to tutor for the Market Research course in 2016. The research process is something that I find fascinating, challenging, and fun – and I enjoy being able to share this with students.
What is your goal - what do you seek to learn?
To influence behaviour like word-of- mouth, you first need to understand what drives that behaviour.
My goal is to gain a clearer picture of what drives the person behind the share button, by cultivating a deeper understanding of the biological, psychological, and social factors that motivate word-of- mouth.
What is your approach in your work?
As I came to my PhD in Marketing with a background in psychology, I have always been interested first and foremost in the person behind the behaviour, in this case, word-of- mouth. I consider the various factors and their interactions that underlie such a complex social behaviour using experimental methods.
Explain the impact of your research, who can learn from it and how?
Creating social content, or content that is designed to be shared, is an increasingly staple marketing activity in today’s environment. My research will assist marketers to design such content through understanding why, what, and with who people will share word-of- mouth.
What was the focus of your recent work?
My recent research has focused on the role of self-concept (the way that we view ourselves) on what people share, as well as how one’s assessment of social risks and benefits determines their willingness to engage in word-of- mouth.
What drew you to this specific field?
The way that consumers communicate with each other, and the way that brands communicate with their audience, has changed so much since the advent of social media. With this change, a lot of what we know about social communication, including word-of- mouth, has changed too. I enjoy building this knowledge in a fast-paced, dynamic, social context.
What has been the proudest moment in your research or teaching career so far?
Successfully competing in the Business Research “Pitch or Ditch” competition was a proud moment.
My supervisors and I have been working on this research since the beginning of my PhD, and receiving recognition from peers regarding the applicability and validity of the research was heartening.
I also always feel proud when I see students’ progress throughout the semester, and come to enjoy the subject through our classes together.
Story: Monaliza Platini