Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 40 Number 4 2023 pp. 1271-1300

Impacts of Social Interactions and Peer Evaluations on Online Review Platforms

Yu, Yinan, Khern-am-nuai, Warut, Pinsonneault, Alain, and Wei, Zaiyan


Social technologies on online review platforms enable social interactions among users, such as establishing following relationships and commenting on others’ posts. Although it is well recognized that more socially engaged reviewers tend to be more active and generate content of higher quality, our knowledge about the impact of social interactions on peer evaluations of reviews is limited. To address this issue, we use a unique dataset from a major online review platform and find that, ceteris paribus, reviews posted by more socially engaged users receive more helpfulness votes than those posted by less socially engaged users. Similarly, users tend to vote more for reviews written by their mutual followers than for those written by nonfollowers. In addition, we find that less socially engaged users review a broader range of products and services but are less likely to stay on a platform, which may further contribute to the inflation of peer evaluations (toward online reviews). Our study provides unique empirical evidence regarding the influence of social interactions on review evaluations. Furthermore, we caution researchers and practitioners against utilizing review helpfulness scores as a sole measure for review quality and diagnosticity.

Key words and phrases: Social technologies, social relationships, online reviews, peer evaluation, user-generated content, online platforms, user engagement, online social interactions