Value destruction in exaggerated online reviews

Melissa A. Baker (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Kawon Kim (Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Publication date: 8 April 2019



This paper aims to examine the underlying motivations, attitudes and behaviors of exaggerated review posters and readers by examining the effect of review valence, emotional expression and language complexity on perceived poster, website and firm trustworthiness and subsequent behavioral intentions.


This research uses a mixed-method approach using the qualitative critical incident technique (CIT) and quantitative experimental design. Study 1 uses CIT to examine exaggerated online reviews from the poster perspective where Study 2 uses CIT to examine readers’ perceptions of exaggerated reviews. Study 3 conducts a between-subjects experimental design examining the impact of valence (positive vs negative) × emotion (low vs high) × language (vague vs detailed) on trustworthiness and behavior intention.


Results of the two qualitative studies (Study 1 and 2) find posters and readers use language complexity and emotions in exaggerated reviews. The results from the quantitative experimental design study (Study 3) find that language style and emotions influence customer perceptions of poster, website and firm trustworthiness, which also mediates the relationship between the qualitative aspects of review text on behavioral intentions.

Practical implications

The findings provide multiple practical implications on the prevalence of exaggerated online reviews and the importance of language and emotion in determining customer perceptions and behavioral intentions.


By focusing on both readers and posters in exaggerated eWOM, specific motivations, emotions and language, this research contributes to the literature of online reviews, customer misbehavior, trustworthiness, language use and value co-destruction in online environments.



Baker, M. and Kim, K. (2019), "Value destruction in exaggerated online reviews", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 1956-1976.

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