The Effect of Availability Heuristics in Online Consumer Reviews

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Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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This research investigates principles of judgmental heuristics and dual processing systems in the online purchasing environment. It examines the effects of availability cues in restaurant reviews on dining intentions and menu item choice. Two experiments are reported in which consumers make dining out and food choice decisions using simulated online review sites. The first experiment evaluates primacy–recency effects of positive and negative reviews along with different review types. The findings indicate that text plus ratings produce higher visit intentions and expectations compared with either cue by itself. The second experiment examines the effects of rating format, visual cues, and review valence on menu item choice. Pictures increase likelihood to choose a positively reviewed menu item but do not influence likelihood to choose a negatively reviewed item. This finding supports the negativity bias, whereby consumers place more weight on negative versus positive information. Consumers are more likely to choose a menu item with pictures when ratings are in numerical versus star rating format. The findings can be interpreted in terms of System 1 (heuristic) and System 2 (systematic) processing.


Hospitality Administration and Management



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