The impact of language style on consumers′ reactions to online reviews

Laurie Wu, Han Shen, Alei Fan, Anna S. Mattila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The current research examines the novel impact of an online review's language style (figurative vs. literal) on consumers' attitudes towards a hotel and their reservation intention. Previous marketing research advocated for the use of figurative language to advertise hedonic consumptions. Yet, we found that, in the context of online hotel reviews, figurative language doesn't offer significant advantages in terms of persuasive power. Specifically, our findings indicate that, when a review is posted by a reviewer with low expertise level, consumers actually exhibit lower levels of attitude and reservation intention if the review is written in figurative (vs. literal) language. When the reviewer possesses high expertise level, the language style effect was attenuated. Finally, serial mediation tests show that the causal link between language typicality → perceived reviewer expertise explains the language style effect on consumers' pre-purchase evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-596
Number of pages7
JournalTourism Management
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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