The facilitating role of review ratings on online consumer review processing : the moderating role of susceptibility to interpersonal influence and perceived risk



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Online consumer reviews have become popular sources for acquiring product-related information. However, an excessive number of reviews create eWOM overload, thus a system that can efficiently sort helpful reviews, so prospective customers can make informed decision more easily, is an obvious solution. Numeric cues, such as star ratings, are perceived to be valuable, but consumers’ evaluation of the review and the reviewed product has been understudied. In fact, it is unclear how consumers process numeric cues as parts of online product information. Therefore, this study investigated the potential of numeric review cues, particularly star ratings, to determine how consumers process numeric reviews in relation to their evaluation of review quality and in relation to their decision-making process. The main premise of this study is that consumers systematically process product information online via peer consumer reviews, and consumers’ dependency on reviews depends on their susceptibility to interpersonal influence and the perceived risk inherent in the product purchase. Two experiments were conducted to test this premise, and the experiments found that the degree of consumers’ susceptibility to interpersonal influence which acted as a moderator of the valence of star rating effects has a significant impact on consumers’ evaluations of online consumer reviews and the reviewed product. In addition, the findings highlighted the significant role peer consumers’ star ratings can play in product purchase decisions. Moreover, the study identified the role susceptibility to interpersonal influence had in an online shopping environment.