The Extreme Distribution of Online Reviews: Prevalence, Drivers and Implications

62 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2018 Last revised: 22 Mar 2019

See all articles by Verena Schoenmueller

Verena Schoenmueller

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Oded Netzer

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School

Date Written: February 15, 2019

Abstract

In this research, we investigate the prevalence and possible reasons underlying the so-called extreme distribution of reviews in which reviews are heavily skewed to the positive end of the rating scale, with a few reviews in the mid-range and some reviews at the negative end of the scale. Putting together a large dataset of online reviews - over 280 million reviews from 25 major online platforms - we find that the extreme distribution of reviews occurs on different platforms, but the platforms vary with respect to the prevalence of the extreme distribution of their products based on how selective customers are in reviewing products on the platform. Using a cross platform and multi-method approach, including secondary data, experiments as well as survey data, we identify polarity self-selection, described as the higher tendency of consumers with extreme experiences to provide a review, as the main driver of the extreme distribution. Additionally, we describe and demonstrate that polarity self-selection and the extreme distribution reduce the informativeness of online reviews.

Keywords: User Generated Content, Online Reviews, Online Ratings, Extreme Distribution, Self-Selection

JEL Classification: M30, M31

Suggested Citation

Schoenmueller, Verena and Netzer, Oded and Stahl, Florian, The Extreme Distribution of Online Reviews: Prevalence, Drivers and Implications (February 15, 2019). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 18-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3100217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3100217

Verena Schoenmueller (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Oded Netzer

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School ( email )

L 5, 2
Mannheim, 68131
Germany
+496211811563 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://quantmarketing.bwl.uni-mannheim.de/

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
220
Abstract Views
1,325
rank
139,760
PlumX Metrics