Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Major Professor

Ann E. Fairhurst

Committee Members

Carol A. Costello, Youn-Kyung Kim, Hee-Jin Lim, David W. Schumann


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the role of consumer reviews in consumers’ decision making process. The current study aims to help researchers and practitioners understand how consumers process different type of information in online consumer reviews. The specific research objectives are to examine (1) how different type of online consumer reviews influence consumers’ responses toward the reviews (2) how different types of individual characteristics influence consumer processing of the content of the reviews, and (3) how consumers’ responses evoked by review content affect consumer attitudes and behavioral intentions toward the reviewed products and retailers. This study addressed two aspects of review-type: (1) type of product information in online consumer reviews (attribute-and-benefits reviews vs. benefits-only reviews), and (2) type of personal information disclosed by the reviewers (reviewers’ personal information vs. reviewer stories).

The literature reviews guided the development of hypotheses and the model of the study in an online apparel store context. To test the hypotheses, this study employs an online experiment with a mock website. A total of 425 participants collected from consumer panels of marketing research firm were used for the analyses.

The analyses revealed that reviews containing reviewers’ consumption stories, compared to those containing reviewer information, produce more positive thoughts, greater perceptions of reviews’ informativeness, and more favorable attitudes toward the reviews. Contradicting the predictions, there was no moderating effect of individual differences in chronic tendency to enjoy thinking and engage in thinking. Participants’ responses evoked by the reviews showed positive relationships with their attitudes and behavioral intentions toward the reviewed product and the retailer. Further discussion about the results, implications, and suggestions for future research are provided.

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