The roles of mindsets, need for cognition, and need for uniqueness in processing valence, volume, and variance of online reviews

  • Dipanwita Bhattacharjee

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Online consumer reviews, a form of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), have become ubiquitous and are one of the extremely popular information sources among all user-generated content (UGC). With the advancement of Web 2.0, consumers can create content, provide feedback, write reviews, rate the products and services they have already consumed, and interact with other consumers. Nowadays, more and more consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Reviews are highly accessible and a low-cost information source. Historically, consumers rely more on other consumers' opinions than company-generated marketing information. Reviews and ratings are considered information free from any corporate influence. Across three experimental studies, this research examines how individual difference variables (e.g., mindsets, need for cognition, and need for uniqueness) affect the processing of different attributes of online reviews (e.g., valence, volume, and variance) and how this subsequently affects product attitudes and choices across search vs. experience goods.

In Study 1, the findings show that in high growth mindset conditions, the effects of positive reviews on product attitudes are attenuated, and such effects apply only to experience products. Hence, mindsets affect the processing of the valence of online reviews. In Study 2, results demonstrate that consumers with a higher need for cognition choose products with a high volume of reviews, mainly when they are experience products. Unfortunately, Study 3 does not support our hypothesis that individuals with a high need for uniqueness choose products with a higher variance of online reviews.

Theoretically, the findings of this dissertation add knowledge to the existing literature on individual differences and online reviews by showing that consumers’ personalities or individual traits shape the processing of online reviews and ratings. This study also adds knowledge to the literature on search and experience goods by showing that consumers with low growth mindset conditions and a high need for cognition use online reviews for experience goods. Managerially, the findings provide useful insights into how individual differences play roles in information processing, particularly online reviews. Managers offering experience goods use these insights to better develop their communication campaigns by making online reviews more salient. Collectively, these studies demonstrate the importance of individual difference variables in the context of online review effectiveness and provide managerial insights for effective targeting.
Date of Award29 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRafi Chowdhury (Supervisor), Mark Spence (Supervisor) & Gulasekaran Rajaguru (Supervisor)

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