Data for: Expertise Makes Perfect: How the Variance of a Reviewer's Historical Ratings Influences the Persuasiveness of Online Reviews
Online reviews have become an important source of information for consumers’ purchase decisions. The literature has traditionally emphasized the importance of review content (e.g., valence and volume) but has paid relatively less attention to the impact of the characteristics of reviewers in shaping consumer preferences. Drawing upon the persuasion literature, this study proposes that consumers are more willing to accept the reviewer’s recommendation when his/her historical ratings for a certain product domain display greater variance. Five experiments provide consistent support for this hypothesis as well as the underlying process. Studies 1a and 1b show that a reviewer with high variance of historical ratings is more likely to be inferred as having more domain expertise, and this inference of expertise increases the persuasiveness of the reviewer’s WOM (Study 2). This “variance-expert inference” effect holds regardless of whether the average of historical ratings is positive or negative (Study 3), whereas it disappears when the volume of historical posts is limited (Study 4). Implications for the literature on persuasion and online reviews are provided.