The interpersonal effects of distinct emotions in online reviews
SourceCognition & Emotion, 35, 7, (2021), pp. 1257-1280
Article / Letter to editor
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Cognition & Emotion
SubjectCommunication and Media
Emotional expressions in online reviews affect reviews' informative value. By comparing high and low arousal emotions with a negative and positive valence, the current research demonstrates that the effects of emotional expressions in online reviews are determined not by the level of arousal, but by the perceived rationality of the reviewer and the perceived appropriateness of the emotional expression. In a lab experiment (N = 242) among university students, and an online experiment (N = 252) on Prolific Academic involving native English speakers, participants read an online restaurant review with the negative emotions anger, disappointment, or disgust, or with the positive emotions happiness, excitement, or contentment. Results showed that readers of online reviews considered expressions of anger more inappropriate than expressions of disappointment or disgust; this led them to judge the reviewer as more irrational, which decreased the informative value of the review. As a consequence, angry reviews led to less negative restaurant evaluations and stronger intentions to visit the restaurant than reviews expressing disappointment or disgust. We found no differences between contentment and happiness (Study 1), or between contentment and excitement (Study 2). Our findings underscore the importance of studying the effects of discrete emotions in online reviews.
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