The role of online reviews in consumer decision-making
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As a prominent form of user-generated content, online reviews have become increasingly indispensable for consumers to make purchase decisions. Thus, it is critical to understand what sets helpful reviews apart from unhelpful ones, which kinds of reviews consumers prefer to read, and how online reviews shape consumers’ purchase decisions. Prior research has examined diverse determinants of review helpfulness and the effect of summary rating statistics on product sales. However, few studies have examined the impact of reviewers’ writing styles on review helpfulness, explored the critical role of consumers’ initial beliefs before they read and evaluate reviews, or investigated the likelihood of individual reviews to sway consumers’ purchase decisions. Addressing these important gaps and scrutinizing commonly accepted assumptions, my dissertation aims to explore how, why, and when various aspects of online reviews influence consumers’ judgment of review helpfulness, preference in information seeking, and purchase decisions.