Effect of Individual Differences on Online Review Perception and Usage Behavior: The Need for Cognitive Closure and Demographics

  • Ma, Yoon Jin (Dept. of Family & Consumer Sciences, Illinois State University) ;
  • Hahn, Kim (The Fashion School, Kent State University) ;
  • Lee, Hyun-Hwa (Dept. of Fashion Design & Textiles, Inha University)
  • Received : 2012.08.24
  • Accepted : 2012.11.14
  • Published : 2012.12.31


This article examines how individual differences on the need for cognitive closure and demographics influence consumer perception and the usage of consumer reviews in online shopping. Data were randomly collected from 2,381 U.S. online consumer review users through an online survey. The findings from multiple regression analyses revealed the different effects of the need for cognitive closure dimensions (i.e., preference for order and structure, preference for predictability, discomfort with ambiguity, closed-mindedness, and decisiveness) and demographic characteristics on consumer attitudes, perceived online review influence, benefits, persuasiveness, and review usage behavior. Finally, practical implications and prospects for future research are discussed.


  1. Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper & Row.
  2. Armstrong, S. J., & Overton, T. S. (1977). Estimation nonresponse bias in mail surveys. Journal of Marketing Research, 14(3), 396−402.
  3. Bae, S., & Lee, T. (2011). Gender differences in consumers' perception of online consumer reviews. Electronic Commerce Research, 11(2), 201−214.
  4. Bagozzie, R. P., & Yi, Y. (1988). On the evaluation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 16(1), 74−94.
  5. Bailey, A. A. (2005). Consumer awareness and use of product review websites. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 6(1), 68−81.
  6. Berger, C. R., & Calabrese, R. J. (1975). Some explorations in initial interaction and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research, 1(2), 99−112.
  7. Bettman, J. R. (1973). Perceived risk and its components: A model and empirical test. Journal of Marketing Research, 10(2), 184−190.
  8. Bickart, B., & Schindler, R. M. (2001). Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 15(3), 31−40.
  9. Block, J., & Block, J. (1951). An investigation of the relationship between intolerance of ambiguity and ethnocentrism, Journal of Personality, 19(3), 303−311.
  10. Bradac, J. J. (2001). Theory comparison: Uncertainty reduction, problematic integration, uncertainty management, and other curious constructs. Journal of Communication, 51(3), 456−476.
  11. Brumfield, E. J. (2008). Using online tutorials to reduce uncertainty in information seeking behavior. Journal of Library Administration, 48(3-4), 365−377.
  12. Case, C. J., & King, D. L. (2003). Quantifying student internet purchasing behavior. In A. Alkafaj & J. Bivermen (Eds.), Business research yearbook, 10 (pp. 88−92). Sa-line, MI: Mcmaughton & Gunn.
  13. Chakravarty, A., Liu, Y., & Mazumdar, T. (2010). The differential effects of online word-of-mouth and critics' reviews on pre-release movie evaluation. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 24(3), 185−197.
  14. Chatterjee, P. (2001). Online reviews: Do consumers use them? In M. C. Gilly & J. Myers-Levy (Eds.), Advances in consumer research (pp. 129−134). Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research.
  15. Chen, Y., & Xie, J. (2008). Online consumer review: Wordof- mouth as a new element of making communication mix. Management Science, 54(3), 477−491.
  16. Choi, J. A., Koo, M., Choi, I., & Auh, S. (2008). Need for cognitive closure and information search strategy. Psychology & Marketing, 25(11), 1027−1042.
  17. Clare, C. (2010). Receiver perspectives of the determinants that influence eWOM adoption: An exploratory study. MMU Research, Research Institute for Business and Management. Retrieved March 10, 2010, from http://,% 20Carl.pdf
  18. Cole, C., Laurent, G., Drolet, A., Ebert, J., Gutchess, A., Lambert-Pandraud, R., Mullet, E., Norton, M., & Peters, E. (2008). Decision making and brand choice by older consumers. Marketing Letters, 19(3-4), 355−365.
  19. Creamer, M. (2007). At last, the reviews are in: Wal-Mart wakes up to the power of the people. Advertising Age, 78(29), 1−27. Retrieved September 14, 2009, from http://
  20. Deighton, J., Romer, D., & McQueen, J. (1989). Using drama to persuade. Journal of Consumer Research, 16(3), 335− 343.
  21. Dennis, C., Harris, L., & Sandhu, B. (2002). From bricks to clicks: Understanding the e-consumer. Qualitative Marketing Research, 5(4), 281−290.
  22. Dillman, D. A. (2000). Mail and Internet surveys: The tailored design method. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  23. Dillon, T., & Reif, H. (2004). Factors influencing consumers' e-commerce commodity purchases. Information Technology Learning, and Performance Journal, 22(2), 1−12.
  24. Djamasbi, S., Siegel, M., Skorinko, J., & Tullis, T. (2011). Online viewing and aesthetic preferences of generation Y and the baby boom generation: Testing user Web site experience through eye tracking. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 15(4), 121−158.
  25. Doh, S. J., & Hwang, J. S. (2009). How consumers evaluate eWOM (electronic word of-mouth) messages. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(2), 193−197.
  26. Galinsky, A. D., Maddux, W. W., Gilin, D., & White, J. B. (2008). Why it pays to get inside the head of your opponent: The differential effects of perspective taking and empathy in negotiations. Psychological Science, 19(4), 378−384.
  27. Garbarino, E., & Strahilevitz, M. (2004). Gender differences in the perceived risk of buying online and the effects of receiving a site recommendation. Journal of Business Research, 57(7), 768−775.
  28. Ghose, A., & Ipeirotis, P. G. (2007). Designing novel review ranking systems: Predicting the usefulness and impact of reviews. Proceedings of the ninth international conference on Electronic Commerce, USA, 303−309.
  29. Gilly, M. C., Graham, J. L., Wolfinbarger, M. F., & Yale, L. J. (1998). A dyadic study of interpersonal information search. Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, 26(2), 83−100.
  30. Global advertising: Consumers trust real friends and virtual strangers the most. (2009, July 7). Nielsen Company. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from http://blog.nielsen. com/nielsenwire/consumer/global-advertising-consumers- trust-real-friends-and-virtual-strangers-the-most/
  31. Goldsmith, R. E., & Horowitz, D. (2006). Measuring motivations for online opinion seeking. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 6(2), 3−14.
  32. Gruen, T. W., Osmonbekov, T., & Czaplewski, A. J. (2006). e-WOM: The impact of customer-to-customer online know-how exchange on customer value and loyalty. Journal of Business Research, 59(4), 449−456.
  33. Gwinner, K. P., Gremler, D. D., & Bitner, M. J. (1998). Relational benefits in services industries: The customer's perspective. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 26(2), 101−114.
  34. Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1998). Multivariate data analysis (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  35. Hennig-Thurau, T., Gwinner, K. P., Walsh, G., & Gremler, D. D. (2004). Electronic word-of-mouth via consumeropinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet? Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18(1), 38−52.
  36. Hogg, M. A. (2000). Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: A motivational theory of social identity processes. European Review of Social Psychology, 11(1), 223−255.
  37. Houghton, D. C., & Grewal, R. (2000). Please, let's get an answer - any answer: Need for consumer cognitive closure. Psychology & Marketing, 17(11), 911−934.<911::AID-MAR1>3.0.CO;2-4
  38. Hu, N., Liu, L., & Zhang, J. J. (2008). Do online reviews affect product sales? The role of reviewer characteristics and temporal effects. Information Technology and Management, 9(3), 201−214.
  39. Huff, L. C., & Alden, D. L. (1998). An investigation of consumer response to sales promotions in developing markets: A three-country analysis. Journal of Advertising Research, 38(3), 47−56.
  40. Kempf, D. A. S., & Palan, K. M. (2006). The effects of gen-der and argument strength on the processing of wordof- mouth communication. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 10(1), 1−18.
  41. Klein, C. T. F., & Webster, D. M. (2000). Individual differences in argument scrutiny as motivated by need for cognitive closure. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22(2), 119−129.
  42. Kline, R. B. (2007). Principles and practices of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  43. Korgaonkar, P., & Wolin, L. D. (2002). Web usage, advertising, and shopping: Relationship patterns. Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, 12(2), 191−204.
  44. Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2005). Marketing management (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice- Hall.
  45. Kruglanski, A. W., & Webster, D. M. (1994). Motivated closing of the mind: "Seizing" and "freezing." Psychological Review, 103(2), 263−283.
  46. Kruglanski, A. W., & Freund, T. (1983). The freezing and unfreezing of lay-inferences: Effects of impressional primacy, ethnic stereotyping, and numerical anchoring. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19(5), 448−468.
  47. Kruglanski, A. W., Webster, D. M., & Klem, A. (1993). Motivated resistance and openness to persuasion in the presence or absence of prior information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(5), 861−876.
  48. Kruglanski, A. W., Atash, M. N., De Grada, E., Mannetti, L., Pierro, A., & Webster, D. M. (1997). Psychological theory testing versus psychometric nay-saying: Comment on Neuberg et al.'s (1997) critique of the need for closure scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(5), 1005−1016.
  49. Kumar, N., & Benbasat, I. (2006). Research note: The influence of recommendations and consumer reviews on evaluations of websites. Information Systems Research, 17(4), 425−439.
  50. Lau, G. F., & Ng, S. (2001). Individual and situational factors influencing negative word of-mouth behaviour. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 18(3), 163−178.
  51. Leaptrott, J., & McDonald, J. M. (2008). Looking before leaping: The effect of owner decisiveness on small business performance. Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, 14(1), 1−12.
  52. Lee, H. H. (2012). Attributes of online review systems: An environmental design perspective. Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, 3(4), 158−171.
  53. Lee, H. H., & Ma, Y. J. (2012). Consumer perceptions of online consumer product and service reviews: Focusing on information processing confidence and susceptibility to peer influence. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 6(2), 110−132.
  54. Lee, M. H., Schellhase, R., Koo, D. M., & Lee, M. J. (2009). The impacts of need for cognitive closure, psychological wellbeing, and social factors on impulse purchasing. Journal of Global Academy of Marketing Science, 19(4), 44−56.
  55. Lee, M., & Youn, S. (2009). Electronic word of mouth: How eWOM platforms influence consumer product judgment. International Journal of Advertising, 28(3), 473− 499.
  56. Li, X., & Hitt, L. M. (2008). Self-selection and information role of online product reviews. Information Systems Research, 19(4), 456−474.
  57. Li, X., Hitt, L. M., & Zhang, Z. J. (2011). Product reviews and competition in markets for repeat purchase products. Journal of Management Information Systems, 27 (4), 9−42.
  58. Mannetti, L., Pierro, A., Kruglanski, A., Taris, T., & Bezinovic, P. (2002). A cross-cultural study of the need for cognitive closure scale: Comparing its structure in Croatia, Italy, USA and the Netherlands. British Journal of Social Psychology, 41(1), 139−156.
  59. Meyers-Levy, J. (1989). Gender differences in information processing: A selectivity interpretation. In. P. Caferrata & A. Tybout (Eds.), Cognitive and affective responses to advertising (pp. 219−260). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
  60. Moneta, G. B., & Yip, P. P. Y. (2004). Construct validity of the scores of the Chinese version of the need for closure scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64(3), 531−548.
  61. Moskowitz, G. B. (1993). Individual differences in social categorization: The influence of personal need for structure on spontaneous trait inferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(1), 132−142.
  62. Mudambi, S. M., & Schuff, D. (2010). What makes a helpful online review? A study of customer reviews on Amazon. com. MIS Quarterly, 34(1), 185−200.
  63. Neuberg, S. L., & Newsom, J. T. (1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simpler structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(1), 113−131.
  64. Neuberg, S. L., Judice, T. N., & West, S. G. (1997). What the need for closure scale measures and what it does not: Toward differentiating among related epistemic motives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(6), 1396−1412.
  65. Nunnally, J. C., & Bernstein, I. H. (1994). Psychometric theory (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  66. Online consumer-generated reviews have significant impact on offline purchase behavior. (2007, November 29). com Score. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from Reviews_Impact_Offline_Purchasing_Behavior/
  67. Ono, H., & Zavodny, M (2003). Gender and the Internet. Social Science Quarterly, 84(1), 111−121.
  68. Park, C., & Lee, T. M. (2009). Antecedents of online reviews' usage and purchase influence: An empirical comparison of U.S. and Korean consumers. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 23(4), 332−340.
  69. Park, D. H., Lee, J., & Han, I. (2007). The effects of online consumer reviews on consumer purchasing intention: The moderating role of involvement. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 11(4), 125−148.
  70. Park, D. H., & Lee, J. (2008). eWOM overload and its effect on consumer behavioral intention depending on consumer involvement. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 7(4), 386−398.
  71. Park, H., & Cho, H. (2012). Social network online communities: Information sources for apparel shopping. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 29(6), 400−411.
  72. Peterson, R. A. (1994). A meta-analysis of Cronbach's coefficient alpha. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(2), 381−391.
  73. Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1984). The effects of involvement on response to argument quantity and quality: Central and peripheral routes to persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(1), 69−81.
  74. Prendergast, G., Ko, D., & Yuen, S. Y. (2010). Online word of mouth and consumer purchase intentions. International Journal of Advertising, 29(5), 687−708.
  75. Putrevu, S. (2001). Exploring the origins and information processing differences between men and women: Implications for advertisers. Academy of Marketing Science Review, 10, 1-14. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from http://
  76. Reichert, T., Heckler, S. E., & Jackson, S. (2001). The effects of sexual social marketing appeals on cognitive processing and persuasion. Journal of Advertising, 30(1), 13−27.
  77. Roets, A., & Van Hiel, A. (2007). Separating ability from need: Clarifying the dimensional structure of the need for closure scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(2), 266−280.
  78. Romani, S. (2006). Price misleading advertising: Effects on trustworthiness toward the source of information and willingness to buy. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 15(2), 130−138.
  79. Schindler, R. M., & Bickart, B. (2005). Published word of mouth: Referable, consumer-generated information on the Internet. In C. P. Haugtvedt & K. A. Machleit (Eds.), Online consumer psychology: Understanding and influencing consumer behavior in the virtual world (pp. 35-61). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  80. Senecal, S., & Nantel, J. (2004). The influence of online product recommendations on consumers' online choices. Journal of Retailing, 80(2), 159−169.
  81. Shah, J. Y., Kruglanski, A. W., & Thompson, E. P. (1998). Membership has its (epistemic) rewards: Need for closure effects on in-group bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 383−393.
  82. Smith, D., Menon, S., & Sivakumar, K. (2005). Online peer and editorial recommendations, trust, and choice in virtual markets. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 19(3), 15−37.
  83. Smith, M. R., & Gordon, R. A. (1998). Personal need for structure and attitudes toward homosexuality. Journal of Social Psychology, 138(1), 83−87.
  84. Sun, J., & Wang, X. (2010). Value differences between generations in China: A study in Shanghai. Journal of Youth Studies, 13(1), 65−81.
  85. The Retail Bulletion. (2009, October). Consumers relying on web reviews soars by 84%. The Retail Bulletion: The Complete Retail News Resources. Retrieved January 10, 2012, from 09/
  86. The 2011 social shopping study. (2011, June). The e-tailing group and PowerReviews. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from
  87. Thorisdottir, H., & Jost, J. (2011). Motivated closed-mindedness mediates the effect of threat on political conservatism. Political Psychology, 32(5), 785−811.
  88. Through the eyes of the consumer: 2010 consumer shopping habits survey. (2010). ChannelAdvisor. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from images/us-wp-consumer-survey-2010.pdf
  89. Vermeir, I., & Van Kenhove, P. (2005). The influence of need for closure and perceived time pressure on search effort for price and promotional information in a grocery shopping context. Psychology & Marketing, 22(1), 71−95.
  90. Wang, Y., Sun, S., Lei, W., & Toncar, M. (2009). Examining beliefs and attitudes toward online advertising among Chinese consumers. Direct Marketing: An International Journal, 3(1), 52−66.
  91. Webster, D. M., & Kruglanski, A. W. (1994). Individual differences in need for cognitive closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(6) 1049−1062.
  92. Xia, L., & Bechwati, N. N. (2008). Word of mouse: The role of cognitive personalization in online consumer reviews. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 9(1), 3−13.
  93. Yao, E., Fang, R., Dineen, B. R., & Yao, X. (2009). Effects of customer feedback level and (in) consistency on new product acceptance in the click-and-mortar context. Journal of Business Research, 62(12), 1281−1288.
  94. Zhu, F., & Zhang, X. (2010). Impact of online consumer reviews on sales: The moderating role of product and consumer characteristics. Journal of Marketing, 74(2), 133−148.