The growth of e-commerce has led to an increase in consumers’ reliance on online word-of-mouth such as online product reviews, increasing incentive for sellers to solicit reviews for their products. Recent studies have examined the direct effect of receiving incentives or introducing incentive policy on review writing behavior. However, it is important to understand whether the presence of incentivized reviews, which account for a small proportion on the platform, has spillover effects on unincentivized reviews which are in the majority. Using a state-of-the-art language model BERT and a natural experiment on Amazon.com, we conduct the generalized synthetic control analyses to identify the spillover effects of banning incentivized reviews on unincentivized reviews. We find the positive spillover effects on frequency and helpfulness, but negative spillover effects on rating, sentiment, and images. Thus, we present that the presence of incentivized reviews poisons the well of frequency and helpfulness of unincentivized reviews.
Park, Jaecheol; Aziz, Arslan; and Lee, Gene Moo, "Do Incentivized Reviews Poison the Well? Evidence from a Natural Experiment on Amazon.com" (2022). PACIS 2022 Proceedings. 210.
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