Ratings Scheme Bias in E-Commerce: Preliminary Insights

Ratings Scheme Bias in E-Commerce: Preliminary Insights

Robin S. Poston (University of Memphis, USA) and Marla B. Royne (University of Memphis, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/joeuc.2008100103
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Abstract

There is growing evidence that end-users are influenced by Internet-based opinion mechanisms before making a purchase. One of the most popular mechanisms are the rating schemes found on Web sites such as eBay.com, expertcentral.com, bizrate.com, epinions.com, slashdot.net, moviefone.com, citysearch.com, and so forth. Rating schemes affect end-user productivity in their ability to search and find products and services on the Internet. Unfortunately, ratings schemes can offer misleading information because those submitting ratings have personal subjective opinions, or those submitting ratings try to manipulate other users’ behaviors. For example, an author may ask family and friends to rate his or her book highly and his or her competitors’ books poorly. This article delineates the sources of rating scheme bias and the potential effects of this bias on how users utilize ratings. Data were gathered from 73 upper-division undergraduates completing a preliminary survey with open- and closed-ended questions and 164 additional students completing an exploratory survey to support the preliminary survey results. Based on our findings, we offer preliminary insights and develop a set of propositions to encourage a more rigorous and in-depth examination of rating scheme bias by both practitioners and academicians.

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