C. (Christilene) du Plessis

RSM - Rotterdam School of Management
Erasmus University Rotterdam
ERIM Doctoral Student
Field: Marketing
Affiliated since 2014

Christilene du Plessis is a Doctoral Candidate in Marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Christilene studies how social influence shapes (and is shaped by) consumers and marketers in the context of digital marketing and how social influence emerges. Her primary line of inquiry examines consumer responses to extrinsic rewards. For example, in her dissertation she investigates the effect of monetary incentives on online word-of-mouth. In addition, she examines how social power affects how people think, feel, and behave in consumption settings, and how we can advance research methodology. To answer these questions, Christilene relies on a variety of methods ranging from lab and field experiments, to archival data (e.g., Amazon reviews), and to meta-analyses. Her work has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Best Dissertation Proposal Award by the Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP). Christilene also holds a Master of Science in Marketing from INSEAD and a Bachelor in Business Management from the University of Queensland, Australia. In her free time, Christilene enjoys yoga, playing the electric guitar, and travelling to new countries.

Influencers: The Role of Social Influence in Marketing

This dissertation challenges common methodological conventions used to study social influence in consumer behavior and social psychology. The first part of this dissertation moves beyond the study of social influence in a single dyadic relationship, and investigates how one dyadic relationship influences another. Here, influence attempts by one agent (e.g., a company) on another (e.g., a review writer) are shown to not only influence the cognitions of the agent being influenced, but also their ability to influence others (e.g., review readers). The second part investigates how the widespread use of 2-cell instead of 3-cell experimental designs in social power research limits understanding of both the powerful and powerless. The pervasive practice of contrasting high power to either a low power or a control condition is found to weaken construct validity and inflate the size of effects attributed to high power. In contrast, using 3-cell experimental designs facilitate theoretical advancement by enabling the identification of curvilinear effects. The findings in this dissertation highlight the need for scholars to question common methodological conventions used to study social influence. Overall, this research suggests that doing so may increase methodological rigor, confidence in observed effects, and may lead to novel theoretical insights.

Social influence, online reviews, reviewer incentivization, attitude uncertainty, social power, powerlessness
Time frame
2014 -


Visiting address

Office: Mandeville Building T10-08
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Postal address

Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam

Latest publication

C. du Plessis (2017, december 14). Influencers :The Role of Social Influence in Marketing. EUR Prom./coprom.: prof.dr. S. Puntoni & prof.dr. S.T.L.R. Sweldens.

Supervisory team

Christilene du Plessis
Professor of Marketing
Christilene du Plessis
Endowed Professor of Consumer Behavior and Marketing
Daily supervisor