Building Virtual Rapport with Emotion Expressions: Hotel Responses to Positive Online Reviews

Main Article Content

Ly Wen Taw
Alan R. Libert
Shamala Paramasivam


The rapid digital revolution in recent decades has transformed conventional Word-of-Mouth (WOM) into electronic WOM (eWOM). The significance of digital emotion in eWOM has been widely recognized due to its influential effect on consumer trust. There is increasing research on digital emotion contagion, which refers to exposure to emotions on digital platforms, which evokes internet users’ emotions. Drawing on Spencer-Oatey’s (2008) Rapport Management Model (RMM), this study investigates the stylistic domain of RMM, focusing on the affective lexical resources that express emotions used by Malaysian hotels when responding to positive online reviews on TripAdvisor. These affective lexical resources were analyzed using Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal Theory. The findings demonstrated that the five- and four-star hotels had higher frequencies of affective lexical variation than did the three-star hotels. From the perspective of RMM, the affective lexical choices used by the high-end Malaysian hotels appeared to reflect the cultural values of gratitude and respect in Asian hospitality in fostering virtual emotional connections with reviewers. This study enriches the work on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course design as digitally engaging via online business communication should be an integral part of business-related ESP courses.

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How to Cite
Taw, L. W., Libert, A. R., & Paramasivam, S. (2022). Building Virtual Rapport with Emotion Expressions: Hotel Responses to Positive Online Reviews. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 15(2), 80–103. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Ly Wen Taw, College of Human and Social Futures, Faculty of Education & Arts, The University of Newcastle, Australia

PhD candidate in the jointly-awarded program between UoN and UPM. Her research interests encompass discourse, media, and communication.

Alan R. Libert, College of Human and Social Futures, Faculty of Education & Arts, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Senior lecturer in linguistics at the University of Newcastle (UoN), Australia. He completed his PhD in linguistics at McGill University, Canada. His research interests include artificial languages, syntax, and onomastics.

Shamala Paramasivam, Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages & Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Associate professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) with a specialization in discourse analysis, language and culture, ESP and TESOL. Her research interests lie in discourse, communication, and culture in educational and professional settings.


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