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Title: To follow others or be yourself? Social influence in online restaurant reviews
Authors: Li, H 
Meng, F
Jeong, M
Zhang, Z
Issue Date: Apr-2020
Source: International journal of contemporary hospitality management, 23 Apr. 2020, v. 32, no. 3, p. 1067-1087
Abstract: Purpose: Online reviews are often likely to be socially influenced by prior reviews. This study aims to examine key review and reviewer characteristics which may influence the social influence process.
Design/methodology/approach: Restaurant review data from are analyzed using an ordered logit model and text mining approach.
Findings: This study reveals that prior average review rating exerts a positive influence on subsequent review ratings for the same restaurant, but the effect is attenuated by the variance in existing review ratings. Moreover, social influence is stronger for consumers who had a moderate dining experience or invested less cognitive effort in writing online reviews. Compared to reviewers classified by Yelp as “elite,” non-elite reviewers appear more susceptible to the social influence of prior average review rating.
Practical implications: This study provides guidelines for mitigating the social influence of prior reviews and improving the accuracy of online product/service ratings, which will eventually enhance business and the reputation of online review platforms.
Originality/value: The findings from this study contribute to the electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) literature and social influence literature in terms of the bidirectional nature of social influence on eWOM.
Keywords: Cognitive effort
Dining experience
Online status
Restaurant online review
Review variance
Social influence
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Journal: International journal of contemporary hospitality management 
ISSN: 0959-6119
EISSN: 1757-1049
DOI: 10.1108/IJCHM-03-2019-0263
Rights: © Emerald Publishing Limited This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher
The following publication Li, H., Meng, F., Jeong, M. and Zhang, Z. (2020), "To follow others or be yourself? Social influence in online restaurant reviews", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 1067-1087 is published by Emerald and is available at
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