Assimilation and contrast in web product reviews: devaluing the recommendation of a proficient but dissimilar reviewer

Dorn, Michael Hans; Messner, Claude (2012). Assimilation and contrast in web product reviews: devaluing the recommendation of a proficient but dissimilar reviewer (Unpublished). In: Transfer of Knowledge Conference. Estoril, Portugal. 05.-09.09.2012.

When viewing web-consumer reviews consumers encounter the reviewers in an anonymous environment. Although their interactions are only virtual they still exchange social information, e.g. often reviewers refer to their proficiency or consumption motives within the review texts. Do these social information harm the viewers’ perception of the recommended products? The present study addresses this question by applying the paradigm of social comparison (Mussweiler, 2003) to web-consumer reviews. In a laboratory experiment with a student sample (n = 120) we manipulated the perceived similarity between reviewer and viewer and the perceived proficiency of the reviewer. A measurement of achievement goals (Elliott & McGregor, 2001) and average number of hours of study prior to the experiment allowed to introduce the reviewer as high [low] in proficiency and similar [dissimilar] in achievement goals. As predicted, the viewer’s evaluation of the recommended products differed as a function of this social information. Contrasting with the reviewer led to devaluing the products recommended by a proficient but dissimilar reviewer. However, against our prediction social comparison with the reviewer did not affect the viewer`s self-evaluation. Whether social information in web-product reviews affects the viewer`s self-evaluation and induces both social comparison processes remains an open question. Future studies aim to address this by manipulating the informational focus of the viewer, rather than the perceived similarity between viewer and reviewer. So far, the present study extends the application of social comparison to consumption environments and contributes to the understanding of the virtual social identity.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Innovation Management > Consumer Behavior

UniBE Contributor:

Dorn, Michael Hans, Messner, Claude Mathias


600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations




Michael Hans Dorn

Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2014 10:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:32


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