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Review Helpfulness Scores vs. Review Unhelpfulness Scores: Two Sides of the Same Coin or Different Coins?
  • Yinan Yu,
  • Dominik Gutt,
  • Warut Khern-am-nuai
Yinan Yu
University of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma
Dominik Gutt
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management
Warut Khern-am-nuai
McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Evaluating the helpfulness of online reviews supports consumers who must sift through large volumes of online reviews. Online review platforms have increasingly adopted review evaluating systems, which let users evaluate whether reviews are helpful or not; in turn, these evaluations assist review readers and encourage review contributors. Although review helpfulness scores have been studied extensively in the literature, our knowledge regarding their counterpart, review unhelpfulness scores, is lacking. Addressing this gap in the literature is important because researchers and practitioners have assumed that unhelpfulness scores are driven by intrinsic review characteristics and that such scores are associated with low-quality reviews. This study validates this conventional wisdom by examining factors that influence unhelpfulness scores. We find that, unlike review helpfulness scores, unhelpfulness scores are generally not driven by intrinsic review characteristics, as almost none of them are statistically significant predictors of an unhelpfulness score. We also find that users who receive review unhelpfulness votes are more likely to cast unhelpfulness votes for other reviews. Finally, unhelpfulness voters engage much less with the platform than helpfulness voters do. In summary, our findings suggest that review unhelpfulness scores are not driven by intrinsic review characteristics. Therefore, helpfulness and unhelpfulness scores should not be considered as two sides of the same coin.
05 Jun 2024Submitted to TechRxiv
07 Jun 2024Published in TechRxiv