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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Citation

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. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-02-2017-2096

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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