The Psychology of Yelp

Anyone who keeps a journal shouldn’t find this to be surprising:

If you’ve ever bought anything off Amazon or looked at restaurant reviews on Yelp, you’re intimately familiar with the power of word of mouth. Marketers know it too, at least as far as its persuasive effect on the listener is concerned. But now a new study by a marketing professor in Canada backs it up a step and seeks to understand how word of mouth affects the attitudes of the teller.

Understanding negative events, such as romantic breakups, job losses or disturbing video clips leads individuals to feel less intense negative emotions about these events and to recover from them more quickly. Similarly, understanding positive events, such as graduating from high school, leads individuals to feel less intense positive emotions about these events.

Imagine, for instance, writing a restaurant review on Yelp. You might simply report that the service in a restaurant was fast. Or you might explain that the service in a restaurant was fast because the place was empty. The second review increases your understanding of the experience, thereby decreasing positive emotions like gratitude associated with it and, in turn, lowering your evaluation of the restaurant.

You can read the full article here.

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