Follow The Herd or Be Myself? An Analysis of Consistency in Behavior of Reviewers and Helpfulness of Their Reviews

Author:  Gao Baojun(Department of Management Science and Engineering), Hu N., & Bose
Publication:  Decision Support Systems,95 (2017) 1¨C11
Abstract:  This study investigates if reviewers' pattern of rating is consistent over time and predictable. Two interesting results emerge from the econometric analyses using publicly available data fromTripAdvisor.com. First, reviewers ¡®rating behavior is consistent over time and across products. Furthermore, most of the variation in their future rating behavior can be explained by their rating behavior in the past rather than by the observed average rating. Second, reviews by reviewers with higher absolute bias in rating in the past receive more helpful votes in future.Wefurther divide the bias in rating into intrinsic bias (driven by intrinsic reviewer characteristics) and extrinsic bias(driven by influences beyond intrinsic bias) and document that intrinsic bias plays a more significant role in influencing helpful votes for reviews than extrinsic bias. Our results are robust to different product categories and different definition of bias. Overall our results indicate that in the online review context, the observed average rating or an attention grabbing strategy may not be as important as believed in the past. This study provides insights into reviewers' rating behavior and prescribes actionable items for online vendors so that they can proactively influence online opinion instead of passively responding to them.