Reviewing from a Distance: Uncovering Asymmetric Moderations of Spatial and Temporal Distance Between Sentiment Negativity and Rating (Under 3rd Round Review)

J Neumann, Dominik Gutt, D Kundisch

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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Abstract

How does reviewing a consumption experience from a psychological distance affect one’s online rating? Prior literature has found a positivity bias in the reviewing behaviors of consumers when they evaluate an experience from a spatial and/or temporal distance, e.g., a restaurant visit in another city. However, these results do not account for the unique context of online reviews, which involves publicly associating oneself with a (potentially negative) experience in front of others. Analyzing a dataset from a large online review platform, which enables us to observe reviewers as locals or as travelers, we find that the previously documented positivity bias is not present for consumption experiences that are characterized by a negative sentiment. Instead, we find that online ratings for negative experiences by travelers (i.e., reviewed from a psychological distance) are systematically lower than ratings for similar experiences by locals. Our analysis suggests that these results can be attributed to psychological distance enabling travelers to distance themselves from these experiences and thus allowing them to publicly associate themselves with lower ratings. These results improve our theoretical understanding of online reviewing behavior and help online review platforms in their efforts to de-bias their ratings.
Original languageEnglish
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020

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