The Wisdom of the Crowd Versus the Wisdom in the Crowd: Testing the Effects of Aggregate User Representation, Valence, and Argument Strength on Attitude Formation in Online Reviews
Online review platforms display user-generated content that users rely on to form impressions of unfamiliar objects and experiences. Using the theoretical framework of majority and minority influence and the negativity effect, this research investigates the effects of the argument strength and the valence of review messages as well as their consistency with aggregated user representations on readers’ attitudes toward a review object. Results from an experiment demonstrate that review messages that are consistent with the aggregated rating are better at changing readers’ attitudes toward the review target than messages that are inconsistent with the overall rating. Moreover, argument strength is found to have a greater effect on readers’ attitudes toward the review object when the messages are negative than when they are positive. The results confirm and extend theories on the consensus effect as well as highlight a potential explanation for the negativity effect.