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Abstract

This study advances our understanding of consumer evaluation of search product review content, which can vary in its concreteness, by considering contextual review cues that are often tagged to product review content. Anchoring on construal level theory, we differentiate two forms of contextual review cue—namely, temporal cue (i.e., when the review was posted) and social cue (i.e., who posted the review)—and posit their individual and joint moderation effects on the relationship between product review content and perceived review helpfulness. The experimental results reveal interesting insights. First, when the temporal cue indicates near distance, concrete product review content is perceived as more helpful. By contrast, abstract review content is perceived as more helpful when the temporal cue is distant. Second, social cues are non-instrumental in affecting the evaluation of concrete product review content; however, near social cues have bearings on the evaluation of abstract product review content. Third, we also find a significant joint effect of temporal and social cues on the relationship between product review concreteness and review helpfulness. The assessment of abstract reviews’ helpfulness is strengthened when both social and temporal cues reveal near psychological distance. This research contributes not only to the product review literature by providing integrated understanding of product review (i.e., considering both content and contextual cues), but also to construal level theory by identifying the moderating consequences of temporal and social cues as rooted in two dimensions of psychological distance.

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