When in Doubt, Elaborate? How Elaboration on Uncertainty Influences the Persuasiveness of Consumer-Generated Product Reviews When Reviewers Are Incentivized
59 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2016
Date Written: July 1, 2016
Online consumer-generated reviews contain two types of information: core (the review itself) and auxiliary (information accompanying reviews such as details about the reviewer and the review-generating process). Prior work has focused primarily on the former, despite the latter being commonplace. In this paper, we consider how a common type of auxiliary information — disclosure statements about incentives received by reviewers — affects review persuasiveness. Disclosure likely induces uncertainty about reviewer trustworthiness, leading consumers to discount reviewers’ opinions when forming expectations about product quality. However, we show this is not always the case. Instead, the extent to which disclosing incentives affects review persuasiveness depends on whether consumers deem their disclosure-induced uncertainty to be integral or incidental to judgment formation. This occurs through a metacognitive process in which consumers elaborate on the relevance of their uncertainty. Using a field study and three experiments, we show that when disclosure-induced uncertainty about reviewer trustworthiness is deemed to be integral, product evaluations are affected by this uncertainty. However, when uncertainty is incidental to judgment formation, product evaluations are unaffected.
Keywords: incentives, user-generated content, reviewer trustworthiness, uncertainty, attitude certainty
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