Higher Restaurant Reviews with More Time and Distance

Tripadvisor_reviewAn article in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that guests give higher online ratings to restaurants that are farther from their home and if they waited two or three months to write the review after visiting. If both criteria were met, the effect was even better for a positive review. According to the lead author, "If someone visited a Red Lobster restaurant in their home town and then in another state, he or she gave a better star rating when the restaurant was out of town."

Researchers at Temple University studied more than 166,000 TripAdvisor reviews for their paper, "Effects of Multiple Psychological Distances on Construal Level: A Field Study of Online Reviews." To understand why people gave higher reviews, they analyzed word choice. When people wrote about restaurants closer to home, they described details about the food and service, but when they wrote after a couple of months about their time away from home, they used more general language about their "pleasant" experience.  

The image here encourages guests to write a review when they get home. Perhaps that's not the best strategy. 

Discussion Starters: 

  • Why do you think people give better reviews when waiting to write and when writing about restaurants farther away?
  • What are the implications of this research for restaurants wanting to boost online reviews? What strategies can they use? 
  • What are the implications for people who rely on reviews to make restaurant choices?