A study published in Consumer Marketing found that reviews written by more attractive rather than less attractive reviewers lead to “enhanced brand evaluation.” The Cornell and Penn State researchers swapped out photos of reviewers to test the impact of bias.
Marie Ozanne, assistant professor of food and beverage management in the School of Hotel Administration, explains the result:
“More often than we think, we are replicating our offline behavior online, and we don’t know the impact of all our general offline thinking on our online thinking. Hopefully, understanding it can help us be more conscious about it and find ways to focus more on the information that matters.”
Negative reviews didn’t see the same effect, which Ozanne believes illustrates how people think about products or services. When reading negative reviews, people may think more deeply about the product or service, and then the reviewer’s image becomes less important.
Image source. (Confession: I added a period after the first sentence.)
To what extent do you rely on online reviews?
How do you think appearance might influence your judgment—of online reviews or in other situations?
How can you ward against the effect of appearance bias?