Are attractive reviewers more persuasive? Examining the role of physical attractiveness in online reviews

Marie Ozanne (Johnson College of Business, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA)
Stephanie Q. Liu (Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Anna S. Mattila (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 9 September 2019



While online reviews are of paramount importance in brand evaluations and purchase decisions, the impact of a reviewer’s attractiveness is not well understood. To bridge that gap, this paper aims to explore how physical attractiveness cues through profile photos influence customers’ brand evaluations.


The first study assesses the impact of attractiveness and review valence on brand evaluations. The authors used an experimental design and tested the model with an ANCOVA. Study 2 examines the impact of attractiveness in the context of multiple reviews and tests attractiveness heuristic as the underlying mechanism.


The findings indicate that when an attractive (vs less-attractive) reviewer writes a positive review, brand evaluations are enhanced. However, such an effect does not occur with a negative review. With multiple reviews varying in valence, cognitive load activates the use of an attractiveness heuristic when a positive review is written by an attractive (vs less-attractive) reviewer, thus leading to enhanced brand evaluations.


These findings highlight the presence of the attractiveness halo effect in online reviews and offer important implications to social media marketers. While previous studies have largely focused on review characteristics (e.g. star ratings, strength of the argument, etc.), this study focuses on reviewer characteristics (i.e. attractiveness) and cognitive biases associated with online brand evaluations.



Ozanne, M., Liu, S. and Mattila, A. (2019), "Are attractive reviewers more persuasive? Examining the role of physical attractiveness in online reviews", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 728-739.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.