Two critical problems of online customer reviews is the caused information asymmetry and information overload. To reveal consumers’ information processing under this circumstance, this paper proposes a model to investigate pleasure versus displeasure embedded in reviews as a potential signal of product quality and the moderating effects of perceived empathy and perceived cognitive effort based on the signaling theory. A laboratory experiment with 120 subjects was used to empirically test the research hypotheses. The results show that pleasure and displeasure embedded in reviews influence perceived product quality, which subsequently affects purchase decisions. Additionally, pleasant online reviews were found to have a greater influence on perceived product quality compared to unpleasant online reviews when the perceived empathy and perceived cognitive effort are higher. The findings demonstrate positive effects of pleasant online customer reviews, and provide important practical implications for both sellers and consumers.