Digging In: Online Reviews

Are Reviewers Biased by Their Proximity to Restaurants?

Online reviews are an increasingly valuable decision-making tool for businesses and consumers. Businesses closely watch online reviews, because one star rating differences can cost them double digit percentage points in revenue (Luca, 2011). Consumers rely on trustworthy reviews to make informed purchasing decisions. However, the interests and knowledge of locals and non-local reviewers may vary (White, 2012), entering with a different set of assumptions and thus way of rating goods and services on review websites. This possible difference in ratings leads us to ask to questions:

  • Do local reviewers and visiting reviewers show a difference in the average review star rating?
  • Do local and non-local reviewers bring a different depth of knowledge to their reviews?

We dug into the restaurants of Washington, D.C. in order to find out. In particular, we were interested in whether there existed a positive or negative rating bias in the "local" and "non-local" groups of reviewers.

Come, dig in with us!