Many companies are increasingly confused and upset about how to deal with negative online consumer reviews, says Zoey Chen of Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. One way to overcome consumers' over-reliance on negative word of mouth would be to encourage satisfied customers to include language indicating that they wrote their reviews soon after product/service consumption, according to Chen's research.
In her study, recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research, she found that temporal cues as "this morning" or "I just got back from the best lunch" can boost the value of positive critiques.
"Prior research shows that positive online reviews are less valued than negative reviews," explains Chen, a fifth-year doctoral student in marketing at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, who-authored the study with Nicholas Lurie, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut.
Chen notes that positive reviews could be considered less informative than negative ones because the writers might be perceived as bragging about the good decisions they make in their lives.
"Their motivation for writing might be self-enhancement, signaling their expertise," she says. "But negative reviews are generally seen as reflecting more about the product or service than the lifestyle choices of the writer. Therefore, they tend to be seen as more credible.
"If people learn that you just went to an establishment and had a positive experience, they might think it's more about the experience than the individual," Chen says.
Chen and Lurie, who examined more than 65,000 restaurant reviews on Yelp and conducted lab reviews, conversely found that temporal cues don't have a significant effect on how a negative review is perceived.
- ZOEY CHEN, NICHOLAS H. LURIE. Temporal Contiguity and Negativity Bias in the Impact of Online Word of Mouth. Journal of Marketing Research, 2013; 50 (4): 463 DOI: 10.1509/jmr.12.0063
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