The Value of Personalized Online Reviews: How Do Personalization Cues Influence eWOM Perceptions?

Armina Elena Ilea & Davíð Arnarson

Student thesis: Master thesis


Due to the anonymous nature of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), readers of online reviews are known to look for certain cues to help them make assessments regarding the credibility of the source, which further dictates the review adoption. The authors argue that one such cue is the mention of a customer service representative in an online review (personalized review). An examination of 6.867 Trustpilot reviews confirms the existence of personalized reviews and indicates the prevalence of a positive valence among these reviews. Through a controlled experiment (N = 415), we observed no statistical difference between the perceived credibility and value of personalized reviews compared to non-personalized reviews. Personalization does, however, tend to increase the perceived credibility and value of online reviews. Furthermore, we observe that personalization significantly increases the influence of valence in assessments of review credibility and value. Through another controlled experiment (N = 479) on personalized reviews, we observe that a male reader will assign less credibility and less value to a negative review which mentions a male customer service representative. We observed the same effect in female readers when the negative review mentions a female. The opposite effect was observed in positive, personalized reviews. Perceived credibility and value of a review increased if the reader is of the same gender as the customer service representative, whereas the effect is more pronounced for male readers.

EducationsCand.merc. Customer and Commercial Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages135
SupervisorsAntonia Erz