Swayed by the Numbers: The Consequences of Displaying Product Review Attributes



Prior research has shown the independent effects of average product ratings and number of reviews for online purchases, but the relative influence of these aggregate review attributes is still debated in the literature. In this research, the authors demonstrate the conditional influences of these two attributes as a function of the valence of average product ratings and the level of review numbers in a choice set. Specifically, they argue that the diagnosticity of the number of reviews, relative to average product ratings, increases when average product ratings are negative or neutral (vs. positive) and when the level of review numbers in a choice set is low (vs. high). As a result, when consumers choose among the best options on one of the review attributes (average product ratings or the number of reviews), their preference shifts from the higher-rated option with fewer reviews toward the lower-rated option with more reviews. The authors demonstrate this preference shift in seven studies, elucidate the underlying process by which this occurs, and conclude with a discussion of the implications for retailers and brands.
Date made available2018

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