|M.Sc Student||Gaidar Tamara|
|Subject||How dose the Opinion of an Anonymous Consumer Affect|
Consumer Attitudes? The Role of Information
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Dr. Edith Shalev|
|Full Thesis text|
In our modern world, consumers frequently make purchase decisions based on anonymous reviews. For example, consumers consult online with anonymous people regarding trip plans, car purchases, restaurant choices, and more. Still, it is unclear under what conditions people are influenced by anonymous sources. Empirical evidence about the effect of anonymous reviews is scarce and inconsistent. Furthermore, social influence theories do not provide clear predictions regarding the effect of an anonymous source.
The current research builds on the notion that social influence is a function of perceived psychological distance between the source and the target; the closer we feel to an influence source, the greater its impact. We posit that the perceived distance from an anonymous source is malleable, and examine whether this distance depends on processing fluency. From previous research we know that a consumer feels psychologically closer to fluent objects than to disfluent ones. Consequently, we hypothesize that the fluency of an anonymous review affects the consumer’s perceived psychological distance from the reviewer. In addition, we measure the extent to which people feel psychologically close to the reviewer.
Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that a fluent review results in greater psychological closeness to the anonymous reviewer than a disfluent review. These studies further illustrate that psychological closeness to the reviewer affects attitudes towards the reviewed product and the consumer’s willingness to pay for the product. Study 3 examines the effect of review fluency under two types of reviewer’s identity: a known and an anonymous identity. The results demonstrate that the effect of review fluency on psychological closeness to the reviewer manifests only when the reviewer is anonymous. The implication of these findings for research and practice discussed.