Testimonials are a tactic in which personal stories are used to elicit an emotional reaction, behavioral change, sway opinion, or persuade a reader or viewer of a specific viewpoint. These stories, which are often highly emotive, may be found on a company’s website, to promote a product or service; as part of an advocacy campaign for a social cause or policy; on social media, regarding a rumor or claim; and in press coverage, to give perspectives, insight, or confirmation to a news story. Testimonials may also be offered at in-person events such as rallies and religious gatherings. Testimonials are often quite effective. According to marketing research, “92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 72% of them say positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more.”1

Research suggests testimonials may be effective because they convey authenticity, credibility, and empathy to its target audience.2 This can lead to a parasocial relationship whereby the audience develops a one-sided relationship with the person giving the testimony.3 In “The Inclusion of Patient Testimonials in Decision Aids: Effects on Treatment Choices,” Drs. Peter Ubel, Christopher Jepson, and Jonathan Baron found that giving patient testimonials to study participants significantly influenced participants’ treatment choices within the study.4 In “What works best: objective statistics or a personal testimonial? An assessment of the persuasive effects of different types of message evidence on risk perception,” researchers ​​John B F de Wit, Enny Das, and Raymond Vet found that participants were more likely to get an HBV vaccination after hearing testimony (in comparison with giving patients objective statistics about vaccination) about the risk of not receiving the vaccination.5

Testimonial is a Casebook value under the "Tactics" variable in the code book.

  • 1Emily Cullinan, “How to Use Customer Testimonials to Generate 62% More Revenue From Every Customer, Every Visit,” accessed on November 15, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/2Q2T-TLQQ.
  • 2 Jihyun Kim and Hocheol Yang, “How Does a Radio Host’s Testimonial Influence Media Experiences? The Indirect Effect of Social Presence,” July 3, 2019, archived via Perma.cc, perma.cc/UHZ2-CCCW; Fred W. Sanborn and Richard Jackson Harris, “Google Books: A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication,” July 18, 2013, Google Books, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/9GDT-67NN.
  • 3David C. Giles, “Parasocial Interaction: A Review of the Literature and a Model for Future Research,” Media Psychology, November 17, 2009, Vol. 4, No. 3, pages 279-305, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/9JKQ-P7SB; Leslie Rasmussen, “Parasocial Interaction in the Digital Age: An Examination of Relationship Building and the Effectiveness of YouTube Celebrities,” The Journal of Social Media in Society, Spring 2018, Vol. 7, No. 1, pages 280-294, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/H82Y-4WE9.
  • 4P. A. Ubel, C. Jepson, and J. Baron, “The inclusion of patient testimonials in decision aids: effects on treatment choices,” January-February ​​2001, Vol. 21, No. 1, pages 60-68, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/WB8T-VH5U.
  • 5John B F de Wit, Enny Das, Raymond Vet, “What works best: objective statistics or a personal testimonial? An assessment of the persuasive effects of different types of message evidence on risk perception,” Health Psychology, January 2008, Vol. 27. No. 1, pages 110-115, archived on Perma.cc, perma.cc/X5TK-KR35.

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