Sequential and Temporal Dynamics of Online Opinion

Posted: 24 Oct 2012

Date Written: 2012


We investigate the evolution of online ratings over time and sequence. We first establish that there exist two distinct dynamic processes, one as a function of the amount of time a book has been available for review and another as a function of the sequence of reviews themselves. We find that, once we control for calendar date, the residual average temporal pattern is increasing. This is counter to existing findings that suggest that without this calendar-date control, the pattern is decreasing. With respect to sequential dynamics, we find that ratings decrease: the nth rating is, on average, lower than the n-1th when controlling for time, reviewer effects, and book effects. We test and find some support for existing theories for this decline based on motivation. We then offer two additional explanations for this “order effect.” We find support for the idea that one's ability to assess the diagnosticity of previous reviews decreases: when previous reviewers are very different, more reviews may thus lead to more purchase errors and lower ratings.

Keywords: word of mouth, online reviews, networks, Internet marketing

Suggested Citation

Godes, David, Sequential and Temporal Dynamics of Online Opinion (2012). Marketing Science, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2012; pp. 448-473; DOI: 10.1287/mksc.1110.0653. Available at SSRN:

David Godes (Contact Author)

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

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