A Bayesian Model of How People Search Online Consumer Reviews

Abstract

In this paper we describe a model of how people search online consumer reviews in service of purchasing decisions. The model is similar to other recent models of information seeking in that it updates estimates of products’ utilities using Bayesian inference. It is different, in that it stops seeking further information when the confidence that one of the alternatives is the best exceeds a threshold. Findings from a controlled experiment support the model by suggesting that high variance in review ratings causes people to seek more information.

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