Critics, Crowds, and the Gender Score Gap in Product Ratings: Evidence from the Movies

45 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2023 Last revised: 1 Jun 2023

See all articles by Luis Aguiar

Luis Aguiar

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration

Date Written: May 31, 2023

Abstract

Consumers considering the purchase of experience goods can rely on both critics and crowd-based ratings to guide their decisions. Due to divergent incentives, however, critics and crowd reviewers may incorporate different information into their ratings. In the context of the movie industry, I investigate whether crowd reviewers provide gender-neutral product ratings relative to professional critics. I classify movies as male or female based on the gender composition of their cast and estimate how the gender gap in movie rating scores differs across critics and crowds. Results show that while critics assess both male and female movies similarly, the gender gap in ratings increases substantially under crowd-based ratings and at the expense of female movies. Notably, female movies receive a higher proportion of extremely low ratings, predominantly from male crowd reviewers. Using a rating design change implemented by the review-aggregating platform Rotten Tomatoes, results indicate that this overall increase in gender inequality is driven by a selected group of online reviewers rather than by a general bias against movies with more prominent female presence. These findings have important implications for the gate-keeping role of review-aggregating platforms in reducing bias against female representation in product ratings.

Keywords: Digital Platforms, Product Ratings, Critics, Crowds, Gender Bias, Movie Industry

JEL Classification: D83,L15,L82,O33

Suggested Citation

Aguiar, Luis, Critics, Crowds, and the Gender Score Gap in Product Ratings: Evidence from the Movies (May 31, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4336108 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4336108

Luis Aguiar (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zurich, CH-8006
Switzerland

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