The Presentation Format of Review Score Information Influences Consumer Preferences Through the Attribution of Outlier Reviews

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Journal Article
Journal of Interactive Marketing, 2017, 39 pp. 1 - 14
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© 2017 Review score information can be presented in different formats. In three online experiments, we examined consumers' behavior in the context of review scores presented in a disaggregated format (individual review scores observed sequentially and individually), an aggregated format (review scores summarized into a frequency distribution chart), or both together. Participants tended to attribute outlier review scores to reviewer rather than product reasons. This tendency was more prevalent when reviews were presented in disaggregated format. Moreover, reviews attributed to reviewer reasons tended to be perceived with low credibility. When presented with a choice between two products with equal average review scores but different variances, participants chose as if outlier review scores were discounted when scores were presented in the disaggregated format. This tendency emerged even when disaggregated and aggregated formats were presented together. The number of review scores moderated the effect of format on choice. We argue that disaggregated information allows consumers to better track the number of outliers and, when the number of outliers is small, prompts them to attribute these outliers to reviewer reasons, and subsequently discount them.
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