Management Information Systems Quarterly


This paper explores the effects of emotions embedded in a seller review on its perceived helpfulness to readers. Drawing on frameworks in literature on emotion and cognitive processing, we propose that over and above a well-known negativity bias, the impact of discrete emotions in a review will vary, and that one source of this variance is reader perceptions of reviewers’ cognitive effort. We focus on the roles of two distinct, negative emotions common to seller reviews: anxiety and anger. In the first two studies, experimental methods were utilized to identify and explain the differential impact of anxiety and anger in terms of perceived reviewer effort. In the third study, seller reviews from Yahoo! Shopping web sites were collected to examine the relationship between emotional review content and helpfulness ratings. Our findings demonstrate the importance of examining discrete emotions in online word-of-mouth, and they carry important practical implications for consumers and online retailers.