Title

eWOM Watchdogs: Ego-threatening Product Domains and the Policing of Online Product Reviews

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-11-2014

Publication Title

Psychology & Marketing

DOI

10.1002/mar.20735

Abstract

Suspicion regarding dishonest electronic word-of-mouth is a growing concern for consumers online. Individual consumers are occasionally seen acting as product review forum “watchdogs” within the websites they visit, posting vigilante comments against reviews they perceive to be fraudulent. This multimethod set of studies investigates consumer “watchdog comments,” and the way in which ego-threatening product categories themselves may actually induce a prosecutorial mindset, leading to greater levels of suspicion toward positive online product reviews and the impulse to prosecute potential fraudsters. In Study 1, laboratory-induced ego threat increased punitive severity against the act of falsifying online product reviews. In Study 2, a content analysis of actual Amazon.com reviews and consumer commentary indicates that the occurrence of watchdog comments is more common within ego-threatening product categories.

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