Status and Evaluation in Online Communities: Deviation and Conformity Among Elite Evaluators
46 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2019
Date Written: October 1, 2018
In the past decade, the evaluation process has become more diverse, fragmented, and democratized, with consumers themselves becoming the information intermediaries who pass critical judgment on a product on online sites such as Amazon, TripAdvisor, and IMDB. Given this broadening of information intermediaries, the manner in which the evaluator’s status – and change in status – affects evaluations has also changed. Drawing from a broad, longitudinal sample we investigate evaluations expressed in 55,673 reviews by over 4,000 individuals from 2011–2015 on the Yelp platform, where status is reevaluated yearly. While prior literature on status and evaluations has primarily studied status by investigating differences between high- and low-status groups, our paper investigates how changes in each evaluator’s status affects the evaluations of each individual by comparing evaluations of each individual prior to and subsequent to status gain. We find that change in status drives greater conformity and greater interest in promoting products and businesses that have been assigned lower ratings by prior reviewers. Our research contributes to the theory on status by exploring how status affects evaluations before and after attainment of status, an unexplored area in the literature.
Keywords: social evaluations, status, ratings, topic models
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