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Perceived prevalence and personal impact of negative online reviews

Graham L. Bradley (School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Beverley A. Sparks (Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Karin Weber (Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 15 August 2016




Technological advancement and growth in social media have meant that customers are increasingly using the internet to write a review or express opinions about products and services. Many of these online reviews are critical of service organizations and workers. The purpose of this paper is to document the experiences that service industry personnel have of negatively valenced, customer-authored, online reviews, the personal impact of these reviews, and the manner in which participants respond emotionally and behaviorally to these reviews.


This research drew on the stress, coping, and service literature, with particular emphasis on stress appraisal theory. The study involved the completion of an anonymous online questionnaire by 421 restaurant owners, managers, and employees.


Many respondents reported feelings of anger and use of maladaptive coping strategies in response to negative online reviews (NORs). Smaller numbers reported feelings of embarrassment and guilt, and thoughts of leaving the industry. Factors pertaining to respondents’ online review exposure, emotional responses, and coping strategies predicted the effects of negative reviews on thoughts of exiting current employment.

Research limitations/implications

The findings have implications for protecting worker well-being and job tenure in an industry deeply affected by electronic word-of-mouth. Replication is recommended using a longitudinal design and more objective data obtained from validated instruments and independent sources.


This survey provides the first known evidence of the personal impact of NORs on business owners, managers, and employees.



Bradley, G.L., Sparks, B.A. and Weber, K. (2016), "Perceived prevalence and personal impact of negative online reviews", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 507-533.



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