The impact of social influence on the perceived helpfulness of online consumer reviews

Hans Risselada*, Lisette de Vries, Mariska Verstappen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
441 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose This study aims to study to what extent the helpfulness votes others attach to a review affect a consumer's perceived helpfulness of that review. In addition, the purpose of this study is to investigate whether this social influence moderates the relationships among several content presentation factors and perceived helpfulness.

Design/methodology/approach A choice-based conjoint experiment was carried out in which 201 respondents evaluated different reviews and chose the review they perceive as most helpful.

Findings Consumers perceive reviews as more (less) helpful in the presence of clearly valenced positive (negative) helpfulness votes. In addition, helpfulness votes of others diminish the positive impact of structure and the negative impact of spelling errors.

Research limitations/implications The experimental setup may limit the external validity of the study.

Practical implications Providing a helpfulness button gives firms an instrument to offer content that consumers perceive as more useful and to exert some influence on the effects of content presentation factors on the review's helpfulness.

Social implications Consumers tend to follow other consumers' opinions without forming their own opinion. Firms could misuse this tendency by hiring people to vote on reviews that are not necessarily helpful for consumers, but are helpful for the firm.

Originality/value This study is the first to assess the extent to which social influence affects consumers' evaluation of reviews. Given that consumers use helpfulness votes to distinguish reviews, it is important to understand to what extent these votes reflect the actual helpfulness of the information in the review and to what extent they reflect previous helpfulness votes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-636
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume52
Issue number3/4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Social influence
  • Perceived review helpfulness
  • WORD-OF-MOUTH
  • PRODUCT REVIEWS
  • SALES
  • COMMUNICATION
  • INFORMATION
  • METAANALYSIS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • MARKET
  • BIAS

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