Culture, Conformity and Emotional Suppression in Online Reviews
Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 1 May 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: April 28, 2016
This study examines the cultural background of consumers as an antecedent of online review characteristics. We theoretically propose and empirically examine the effect of cultural background, specifically individualism (versus collectivism), on the tendency of consumers to conform to prior opinion and the emotionality of the review text. We also examine how conformity and emotionality relate to review helpfulness. Our hypotheses are tested using a unique dataset that combines online restaurant reviews from TripAdvisor with measures of individualism – collectivism values. Our econometric analyses reveal that consumers from a collectivist culture are less likely to deviate from the average prior rating and to express emotion in their reviews. Moreover, those reviews that exhibit high conformity and intense emotions are perceived to be less helpful. We also present several important implications for the management of online review platforms in light of these findings, which reflect the previously unidentified drivers of systematic differences in the characteristics of online reviews.
Keywords: culture, online reviews, individualism value, rating deviation, review emotion
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