The Effects of Sentiment and Readability on Useful Votes for Customer Reviews with Count Type Review Usefulness Index

온라인 리뷰의 감성과 독해 용이성이 리뷰 유용성에 미치는 영향: 가산형 리뷰 유용성 정보 활용

Cruz, Ruth Angelie;Lee, Hong Joo
루스 안젤리 크루즈;이홍주

  • Received : 2015.11.25
  • Accepted : 2016.02.26
  • Published : 2016.03.31


Customer reviews help potential customers make purchasing decisions. However, the prevalence of reviews on websites push the customer to sift through them and change the focus from a mere search to identifying which of the available reviews are valuable and useful for the purchasing decision at hand. To identify useful reviews, websites have developed different mechanisms to give customers options when evaluating existing reviews. Websites allow users to rate the usefulness of a customer review as helpful or not. uses a ratio-type helpfulness, while uses a count-type usefulness index. This usefulness index provides helpful reviews to future potential purchasers. This study investigated the effects of sentiment and readability on useful votes for customer reviews. Similar studies on the relationship between sentiment and readability have focused on the ratio-type usefulness index utilized by websites such as In this study,'s count-type usefulness index for restaurant reviews was used to investigate the relationship between sentiment/readability and usefulness votes.'s online customer reviews for stores in the beverage and food categories were used for the analysis. In total, 170,294 reviews containing information on a store's reputation and popularity were used. The control variables were the review length, store reputation, and popularity; the independent variables were the sentiment and readability, while the dependent variable was the number of helpful votes. The review rating is the moderating variable for the review sentiment and readability. The length is the number of characters in a review. The popularity is the number of reviews for a store, and the reputation is the general average rating of all reviews for a store. The readability of a review was calculated with the Coleman-Liau index. The sentiment is a positivity score for the review as calculated by SentiWordNet. The review rating is a preference score selected from 1 to 5 (stars) by the review author. The dependent variable (i.e., usefulness votes) used in this study is a count variable. Therefore, the Poisson regression model, which is commonly used to account for the discrete and nonnegative nature of count data, was applied in the analyses. The increase in helpful votes was assumed to follow a Poisson distribution. Because the Poisson model assumes an equal mean and variance and the data were over-dispersed, a negative binomial distribution model that allows for over-dispersion of the count variable was used for the estimation. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression was used to model count variables with excessive zeros and over-dispersed count outcome variables. With this model, the excess zeros were assumed to be generated through a separate process from the count values and therefore should be modeled as independently as possible. The results showed that positive sentiment had a negative effect on gaining useful votes for positive reviews but no significant effect on negative reviews. Poor readability had a negative effect on gaining useful votes and was not moderated by the review star ratings. These findings yield considerable managerial implications. The results are helpful for online websites when analyzing their review guidelines and identifying useful reviews for their business. Based on this study, positive reviews are not necessarily helpful; therefore, restaurants should consider which type of positive review is helpful for their business. Second, this study is beneficial for businesses and website designers in creating review mechanisms to know which type of reviews to highlight on their websites and which type of reviews can be beneficial to the business. Moreover, this study highlights the review systems employed by websites to allow their customers to post rating reviews.


Online review;Sentiments;Readability;Count-type;Usefulness index


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