How do consumers determine the veracity of online consumer reviews

Michelle Walther*, Steven James Watson, Alexander Boden, Mariëlle Stel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Due to the increase of online shopping, there is also an increase in online reviews, which are used by consumers to decide which products to purchase. However, a lot of these reviews are being faked to influence the consumers perception of the product, which in health and safety related products can not only lead to financial and emotional but also physical damage. Since algorithmic fake review detection is not completely accurate, the consumer has to identify a portion of fake reviews on their own. We know little about how consumers make decisions about whether a review they read is truthful or deceptive. We address this knowledge gap through a grounded theory study, interviewing twenty-five Dutch and German consumers, to probe in detail how consumers incorporate online reviews into their purchase decisions, and in particular how they make veracity judgements and which deception cues they use. The results show that most people vary in how thoroughly they incorporate reviews about the product in their purchase decisions depending on the price and purpose of the product, which means that the higher the price the more research (including reading different reviews) consumers do. Furthermore, consumers tend to assume fake reviews are mostly positive, and therefore preferentially seek out negative reviews. Additionally, for high value products consumers also seek professional reviews in addition to consumer reviews. The types of deception cues consumers reported to use were mostly previously acknowledged in prior research, for example reviewer characteristics, and review characteristics were previously known. However, the interviewees stress that the wording and feeling of the review have a big influence on the perceived trustworthiness of the review. We use our grounded theory approach to develop an initial theoretical model of how the deception cues in reviews influence the purchasing decisions of consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023
EventDecepticon 2023 - Online
Duration: 7 Dec 20238 Dec 2023


ConferenceDecepticon 2023
Internet address


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