Overcoming the J-Shaped Distribution of Product Reviews
Communications of the ACM, October 2009, Vol. 52, No. 10
4 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2013
Date Written: October 18, 2009
While product review systems that collect and disseminate opinions about products from recent buyers are valuable forms of word-of-mouth communication, evidence suggests that they are overwhelmingly positive. Kadet notes that most products receive almost five stars. Chevalier and Mayzlin also show that book reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble are overwhelmingly positive. Is this because all products are simply outstanding? However, a graphical representation of product reviews reveals a J-shaped distribution with mostly 5-star ratings, some 1-star ratings, and hardly any ratings in between. What explains this J-shaped distribution? If products are indeed outstanding, why do we also see many 1-star ratings? Why aren’t there any product ratings in between? Is it because there are no “average” products? Or, is it because there are biases in product review systems? If so, how can we overcome them?
Keywords: Product Reviews, Product Review Systems
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