Do people write longer reviews when their experience is worse than what they read than when better?

Park, Young Joon, Jaewoo Joo, Charin Polpanumas, and Yeujun Yoon (2021), “‘Worse than what I read ?’ The external effect of review ratings on the online review generation process: An empirical analysis of multiple product categories using Amazon.com review data,” Sustainability, 13(19), 10912.

Abstract

In this paper, we study the online consumer review generation process by analyzing 37.12 million online reviews across nineteen product categories obtained from Amazon.com. This study revealed that the discrepancy between ratings by others and consumers’ post-purchasing evaluations significantly influenced both the valence and quantity of the reviews that consumers generated. Specifically, a negative discrepancy (‘worse than what I read’) significantly accelerates consumers to write negative reviews (19/19 categories supported), while a positive discrepancy (‘better than what I read’) accelerates consumers to write positive reviews (16/19 categories supported). This implies that others’ ratings play an important role in influencing the review generation process by consumers. More interestingly, we found that this discrepancy significantly influences consumers’ neutral review generation, which is known to amplify the effect of positive or negative reviews by affecting consumers’ search behavior or the credibility of the information. However, this effect is asymmetric. While negative discrepancies lead consumers to write more neutral reviews, positive discrepancies help reduce neutral review generation. Furthermore, our findings provide important implications for marketers who tend to generate fake reviews or selectively generate reviews favorable to their products to increase sales. Doing so may backfire on firms because negative discrepancies can accelerate the generation of objective or negative reviews.

Keywords

electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM); review rating; online review; external effect; review generation process; fake review

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