Online shoppers are increasingly relying on electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), which refers to Internet-mediated opinions and recommendations on products and services from experienced consumers, to optimize their purchase decisions and reduce purchase risks. Anchored on the attribution theories, this research investigates how consumers would process and respond to the rich information provided by a eWOM system. More specifically, it examines the potential interactions between two eWOM components, namely aggregate rating and individual review, on consumers’ recommendation acceptance. The results from a laboratory experiments revealed that when a positive customer review is accompanied with negative aggregate rating, consumers are more likely to attribute the review to non-product-related factors rather than product-related factors. However, this effect is not significant when the customer review is negative. In addition, product-related attributions have positive impacts on a review’s perceived diagnosticity and credibility, both of which could increase the likelihood of consumer acceptance.
Qiu, Lingyun and Li, Dong, "Effects of Aggregate Rating on eWOM Acceptance: An Attribution Theory Perspective" (2010). PACIS 2010 Proceedings. 147.