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Abstract

With the ever-increasing popularity of online consumer reviews, understanding what makes an online review believable has attracted increased attention from both academics and practitioners. Drawing on the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), this study examines four information cues used to evaluate the credibility of online reviews: Argument quality, source credibility, review consistency, and review sidedness, under different levels of involvement and expertise. We conducted an online survey that involved users of Epinions.com, a popular online consumer review website, to test the research model empirically. Consistent with previous research, the results reveal that argument quality, a central cue, was the primary factor affecting review credibility. Participants also relied on peripheral cues such as source credibility, review consistency, and review sidedness when evaluating online consumer reviews. Review sidedness had a stronger impact on review credibility when the recipient had a low involvement level and a high expertise level. However, the other interaction effects were not significant. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these results.

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