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  

Christilene Du Plessis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Students

Andrew T. Stephen

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Yakov Bart

Northeastern University - D'Amore-McKim School of Business

Dilney Goncalves

IE University - IE Business School - Department of Marketing

Date Written: July 1, 2016

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Du Plessis, Christilene and Stephen, Andrew T. and Bart, Yakov and Goncalves, Dilney, When in Doubt, Elaborate? How Elaboration on Uncertainty Influences the Persuasiveness of Consumer-Generated Product Reviews When Reviewers Are Incentivized (July 1, 2016). Northeastern U. D’Amore-McKim School of Business Research Paper No. 2821641; Saïd Business School WP 2016-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2821641

Christilene Du Plessis

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Students ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Andrew T. Stephen (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Yakov Bart

Northeastern University - D'Amore-McKim School of Business ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

Dilney Goncalves

IE University - IE Business School - Department of Marketing ( email )

Calle Maria de Molina 12, Bajo
Madrid, Madrid 28006
Spain

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