Title of Paper

An Examination of Social Influence on Online Reviews – The Case of Yelp

Author Bios (50 Words)

Fang Meng, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, and a Research Associate in the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development at the University of South Carolina, USA. Her research interests include destination marketing, consumer behavior and experience in tourism and hospitality.

Abstract (150 Words)

Online review platforms aim to provide true and quality evaluations of products/services for consumers to make well-informed purchase decisions. However, online reviews are often likely to be socially influenced by prior reviews. This study examines several review and reviewer characteristics which may influence subsequent consumers’ online reviews, including variance of prior review ratings, reviewers’ online status, cognitive effort, and the extremity of consumers’ own experience. This study, by using online review data of Yelp, reveals that prior average review rating exerts a positive influence on subsequent review ratings for the same restaurant, but the effect is attenuated by the variance in existing review ratings. Moreover, social influence is stronger for consumers who had a moderate dining experience or invested less cognitive effort in writing online reviews. Compared with “elite” reviewers on Yelp, non-elite reviewers appear more susceptible to the social influence of prior average review ratings.

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An Examination of Social Influence on Online Reviews – The Case of Yelp

Online review platforms aim to provide true and quality evaluations of products/services for consumers to make well-informed purchase decisions. However, online reviews are often likely to be socially influenced by prior reviews. This study examines several review and reviewer characteristics which may influence subsequent consumers’ online reviews, including variance of prior review ratings, reviewers’ online status, cognitive effort, and the extremity of consumers’ own experience. This study, by using online review data of Yelp, reveals that prior average review rating exerts a positive influence on subsequent review ratings for the same restaurant, but the effect is attenuated by the variance in existing review ratings. Moreover, social influence is stronger for consumers who had a moderate dining experience or invested less cognitive effort in writing online reviews. Compared with “elite” reviewers on Yelp, non-elite reviewers appear more susceptible to the social influence of prior average review ratings.