Online reviews are of considerable interest to both practitioners and academics. Prior research has focused mostly on the valence and volume of online reviews. Questions on how the emotional content of online reviews influence consumers remain open. Given that non-verbal cues of communication are limited in the online environment, content can be a strong driver of attitudes and, in turn, online purchases. Importantly also, a wide stream of research indicates that different self-construal levels (i.e. independent or interdependent self-construal) perceive emotions in different ways. Therefore it is necessary to examine whether the effect of emotional content within online reviews on product attitudes varies across consumers with different self-construals. Hence, we conduct three studies to analyze the relationship between the emotional content within online reviews (positive, negative, mixed) and product attitudes. Results from Study 1, conducted in Austria (n = 280), show that emotional content within online reviews has an effect on product attitudes, which goes above and beyond that of a review's overall valence. Further building on this finding, Study 2, also conducted in Austria (n = 420), offers specific insights on how reviews containing different emotional cues (i.e. positive, negative and mixed emotions) influence consumers' hedonic and utilitarian attitudes. Finally, Study 3 investigates the moderating role of self-construal by comparing consumers from two countries which differ considerably in terms of self-construal, namely USA (n = 480) and Thailand (n = 480). The findings of these three studies are discussed. Theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are considered as well as implications for future research.
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- Content of online reviews