From Evolution of Online Reviewers: A Social Learning Perspective


Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) or online reviews play a critical role in online or offline markets and have attracted attention of practitioners and academic scholars. This attention has generated a large body of literature that examines the motivation, production, consumption and value of online reviews. Online review communities thrive on volunteer contributions of members but we are yet to understand how members change their reviewing behavior by being part of these communities. It is not clear how reviewers learn and gain experience in their journey from a novice to an expert reviewer by contributing to these review communities. Using a real-world panel data from an online review community, we apply the lens of Social theory of Learning to investigate if reviewers learn/change evaluating products/services over time as they become a part of these review communities. We find that reviewers are driven by self-selection bias in the beginning which decreases over time as they interact with the community and become experienced reviewers. We find that members’ engagement with the community increases their consumption experience but social bias and community recognition drives their evaluations when they are associated with the community for a longer period of time.