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How fakes make it through: the role of review features versus consumer characteristics

Shabnam Azimi (Department of Marketing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Kwong Chan (Department of Marketing, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Alexander Krasnikov (Department of Marketing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 14 July 2022

Issue publication date: 25 July 2022

223

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine how characteristics of an online review and a consumer reading the review influence the probability that the consumer will assess the review as authentic (real) or inauthentic (fake). This study further examines the specific factors that increase or decrease a consumer’s ability to detect a review’s authenticity and reasons a consumer makes these authenticity assessments.

Design/methodology/approach

Hypothesized relationships were tested using an online experiment of over 400 respondents who collectively provided 3,224 authenticity assessments along with 3,181 written self-report reasons for assessing a review as authentic or inauthentic.

Findings

The findings indicate that specific combinations of factors including review valence, length, readability, type of content and consumer personality traits and demographics lead to systematic bias in assessing review authenticity. Using qualitative analysis, this paper provided further insight into why consumers are deceived.

Research limitations/implications

This research showed there are important differences in the way the authenticity assessment process works for positive versus negative reviews and identified factors that can make a fake review hard to spot or a real review hard to believe.

Practical implications

This research has implications for both consumers and businesses by emphasizing areas of vulnerability for fake information and providing guidance for how to design review systems for improved veracity.

Originality/value

This research is one of the few works that explicates how people assess information authenticity and their consequent assessment accuracy in the context of online reviews.

Keywords

Citation

Azimi, S., Chan, K. and Krasnikov, A. (2022), "How fakes make it through: the role of review features versus consumer characteristics", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 523-537. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-04-2021-4597

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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