Online Reviews and the Information Overload: The Role of Selective, Parsimonious and Concordant Top Reviews and their Valence

57 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2018 Last revised: 7 Sep 2021

See all articles by Wael Jabr

Wael Jabr

Pennsylvania State University

Mohammad Saifur Rahman

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

Date Written: June 21, 2018

Abstract

By empowering customers to make fitting purchases, user reviews play an important role in reducing inefficiencies in the provisioning of product information. Because of the abundance of reviews and the signals they provide, this information may become confusing and risks overloading customers. Consequently, review hosting platforms have adjusted their designs to feature a signal “distilled” from a selective set of Top Reviews and their valences. The expected ease with which customers process this signal is intended to increase their satisfaction, thus reducing dispersion in their subsequent review ratings. In this study, we analyze the influential role that Top Reviews and their valence play under various scenarios: when customers are overloaded by a large number of reviews, when Top Reviews themselves are not parsimonious in number, and when the signals from Top Reviews are not in concordance with that from all the other reviews. We find that the valence of Top Reviews plays a central role in mitigating information overload. Yet, Top Reviews’ influence diminishes when they too pose an overload risk, but is strengthened when their signal is reaffirmed by signals from all other reviews. Finally, the impact of Top Reviews weakens for less popular products.

Keywords: Information Overload, Top Reviews, Signaling Theory, Information Theory, Information Provisioning

Suggested Citation

Jabr, Wael and Rahman, Mohammad Saifur, Online Reviews and the Information Overload: The Role of Selective, Parsimonious and Concordant Top Reviews and their Valence (June 21, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200803 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3200803

Wael Jabr (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Mohammad Saifur Rahman

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

403 W. State St
West Lafayette, IN 47907
United States
765-494-4464 (Phone)

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