Valentina Pitardi is a full-time Lecturer in Marketing at Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, specialising in the areas of digital marketing and consumer behaviour. Prior to joining Surrey Business School, she held an academic position at the University of Portsmouth and KEDGE Business School.
Valentina's research interests include the consumer psychology of technology usage, digital consumer engagement, and the role of negative emotions in consumer behavior. Her works have been published in the Journal of Business Research, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Service Management, Journal of Service Theory and Practice, and the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management with her most recent research focusing on the psychological implications of AI agents usage (robots, chatbots, and voice-assistant).
She holds a PhD and M.Phil. in Marketing and a B.A. in Communication Study from Sapienza University of Rome.
Affiliations and memberships
In the media
Psychological implications of Artificial Intelligence and technology usage
Consumer Advertising Engagement
Misinformation sharing and fake news
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate how open, mediatised conflict in geographical indications (GIs) can provide the basis for differentiation strategies for heritage producers based on both functional and symbolic benefits. Design/methodology/approach Longitudinal case study based on multiple data sources, which reconstructs the history of the Bitto GIs and the conflict between the Protected Designation of Origin Bitto Consortium and a small number of heritage Bitto producers. Findings The paper highlights how the mediatised narration of conflict can contribute to raise consumer awareness, differentiate products and result in symbolic value creation. Research limitations/implications Extreme case study design purposively chosen as characterised by conditions likely to accentuate conflict. Practical implications The paper develops a conceptual framework that permits to identify the potential for conflict inside GIs. It also contributes to a better understanding of the image of products protected by GIs and the role played by heritage producers. It also offers practical advice on two promotional tools, namely, trade fair participations and experiential showcases. Social implications The paper offers practical advice on the safeguarding of small producers localised in cultural epicentres inside GIs. Originality/value The authors introduce the notions, such as competitive wars and secession, that contribute to a better understanding of centripetal/centrifugal forces inside GIs. The authors also propose a better understanding of image creation of GIs, grounded in cultural work in marketing and consumer research.
Understanding how branded storytelling content impacts consumer engagement (CE) is needed to advance research in this topical field and better calibrate story elements. This paper aims to understand the interplay between branded storytelling content and CE, considering the different features of stories and the multidimensional nature of engagement. It takes a netnographic approach to a collection of consumer responses − close to 1000 rich comments offered in four languages − to digital videos posted on YouTube by the brand Dove. Findings reveal that story plot, characters, and verisimilitude trigger consumer engagement by activating cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses in a certain sequence and with variable intensities and valences. The results, as well, show the important interactive aspect of story-based engagement. The paper contributes to CE research by offering a framework linking branded storytelling with CE, which is applicable by managers to design effective storytelling content.
Purpose – By adopting a social presence theory perspective, this study aims investigate the influence of perceived usefulness of live chat services and of their unique human attributes on customer attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in the context of online travel shopping. Design/methodology/approach – Based on a cross-sectional survey research involving 8 travel provider websites and 631 travel consumers, this work applies structural equation modelling to analyse the data. Findings – The results illustrate that the perceived usefulness from the communication with a human live chat assistant positively influences customer attitudes and trust towards the website as well as increasing purchase intention. The findings further illustrate the role of the human social cues conveyed by live chat facilities, namely, human warmth, human assurance, human attentiveness and human customised content in positively moderating this effect. Research limitations/implications – The study is limited to specific human attributes. Future research could investigate the role of other human characteristics as well as assess the ability of artificial intelligent powered chatbots in replicating the human elements outlined in this research. Originality/value – The study provides a unique contribution to the travel literature by offering empirical insights and conceptual clarity into the usefulness of human operated live chat communication on travellers' attitudes, trust towards the website and purchase intentions.
Purpose – Extant research mainly focused on potentially negative customer responses to service robots. In contrast, this study is one of the first to explore a service context where service robots are likely to be the preferred service delivery mechanism over human frontline employees. Specifically, the authors examine how customers respond to service robots in the context of embarrassing service encounters. Design/methodology/approach – This study employs a mixed-method approach, whereby an in-depth qualitative study (study 1) is followed by two lab experiments (studies 2 and 3). Findings – Results show that interactions with service robots attenuated customers' anticipated embarrassment. Study 1 identifies a number of factors that can reduce embarrassment. These include the perception that service robots have reduced agency (e.g. are not able to make moral or social judgements) and emotions (e.g. are not able to have feelings). Study 2 tests the base model and shows that people feel less embarrassed during a potentially embarrassing encounter when interacting with service robots compared to frontline employees. Finally, Study 3 confirms that perceived agency, but not emotion, fully mediates frontline counterparty (employee vs robot) effects on anticipated embarrassment. Practical implications – Service robots can add value by reducing potential customer embarrassment because they are perceived to have less agency than service employees. This makes service robots the preferred service delivery mechanism for at least some customers in potentially embarrassing service encounters (e.g. in certain medical contexts). Originality/value – This study is one of the first to examine a context where service robots are the preferred service delivery mechanism over human employees.
Social media platforms are facing increasing tensions in balancing the desire to maintain freedom of expression with limiting the spread of fake news and misinformation. This study investigates whether giving primacy to the source of misinformation on Facebook influences users' sharing behaviour. Two experimental studies show that when fake news is presented in a source‐primacy format, users are less likely to share the post because of reduced trust in the message and increased perceptions of deceptive intent. Additionally, this effect persists only when the person sharing the fake news has a weak interpersonal relationship with the receiver. The study extends current understanding of how misinformation is shared and provides insights into how presentation formats can be used to limit the spread of fake news without restricting freedom of speech.
With the development of deep connections between humans and Artificial Intelligence voice‐based assistants (VAs), human and machine relationships have transformed. For relationships to work it is essential for trust to be established. Although the capabilities of VAs offer retailers and consumers enhanced opportunities, building trust with machines is inherently challenging. In this paper, we propose integrating Human–Computer Interaction Theories and Para‐Social Relationship Theory to develop insight into how trust and attitudes toward VAs are established. By adopting a mixed‐method approach, first, we quantitatively examine the proposed model using Covariance‐Based Structural Equation Modeling on 466 respondents; based on the findings of this study, a second qualitative study is employed to reveal four main themes. Findings show that while functional elements drive users' attitude toward using VAs, the social attributes, being social presence and social cognition, are the unique antecedents for developing trust. Additionally, the research illustrates a peculiar dynamic between privacy and trust and it shows how users distinguish two different sources of trustworthiness in their interactions with VAs, identifying the brand producers as the data collector. Taken together, these results reinforce the idea that individuals interact with VAs treating them as social entities and employing human social rules, thus supporting the adoption of a para‐social perspective.