Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Major Professor

Ann E. Fairhurst

Committee Members

Carol Costello, Youn-Kyung Kim, Robert T. Ladd, Jeremy Whaley


The restaurant review website is one of the most effective restaurant marketing tools that has emerged from the incredible growth of the internet over the past several decades. This study aims to assess consumers’ initial psychological states and consumer behavior toward the attributes of restaurant review websites. By employing the Stimulus-Organism-Response framework, this study introduces seven attributes of a restaurant review website—usefulness, simplicity, visual appeal, social presence, informativeness, credibility, and scalability—and explores how these attributes impact consumers’ cognitive and affective attitudes and behavioral responses. A mock restaurant review website was created according to the results of in-depth interviews and a focus group, and an online survey was linked to the mock restaurant review website. Data were collected on U.S. residents, aged 21 years old and over, yielding 529 completed responses. The data analysis employed multivariate statistical methods and structural equation modeling to test the hypotheses. All constructs had acceptable levels of composite reliability and were deemed valid for both convergent and discriminant validity. Several hypotheses were found to be significant, as expected, except for a few that may require further investigation. The results of the hypotheses testing revealed that the relationships between usefulness, visual appeal, social presence, and behavioral responses were fully mediated by cognitive and affective attitudes. The relationship between informativeness and behavioral response was only mediated by cognitive attitude, whereas simplicity and credibility were only mediated by affective attitude. The hypothesis for the relationship between scalability and behavioral responses were insignificant, and a recommendation for future research is provided. Research implications, limitations, and suggestions are also discussed.

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