The Robo Bias in Conversational Reviews: How the Solicitation Medium Anthropomorphism affects Product Rating Valence and Review Quality
Speaker: Irina Heimbach
Abstract: Companies are increasingly introducing “conversational reviews”—reviews solicited via chatbots—to gain user feedback. However, little is known about how chatbot-mediated solicitation influences rating valence and review quality compared to conventional online forms. Therefore, we conceptualized these review solicitation media on the continuum of anthropomorphism and investigated how various levels of anthropomorphism affect rating valence and review quality, showing that more anthropomorphic media lead to more positive and less helpful reviews. We showed that moderate levels of anthropomorphism lead to increased interaction enjoyment, while high levels increase social presence, thus inflating the rating valence and decreasing review helpfulness. Further, the effect of anthropomorphism is stronger for low-quality products and remains robust across review solicitor’s salience (sellers vs. platforms) and expressed emotionality in conversations. Our study is among the first to investigate chatbots as a new form of technology to solicit online reviews, providing insights to inform various stakeholders of the advantages, drawbacks and potential ethical concerns of anthropomorphic technology in customer feedback solicitation.
Short Bio: Irina Heimbach is Assistant Professor of Digitalization at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. She has been always fascinated how digitalization pervades all aspects of modern everyday life, business, and society. Irina’s research centers particularly on digital markets and commerce, human-computer interaction, information privacy, algorithmic decision making and data analytics. Her research has been published in Information Systems Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Business and Information Systems Engineering, Electronic Markets and Journal of Business Economics as well as in international conferences in Information Systems. Irina’s research won the Claudio Ciborra-Award of the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2013 and experienced wide media coverage. Prior to joining WHU, Irina worked as a research and teaching assistant at TU Darmstadt, where she received her PhD in Information Systems in 2016. In spring 2017, she was a visiting researcher at Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Irina holds diploma in Business Administration from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (2010) and diploma in German Studies from Udmurt State University in Izhevsk, Russia (2003). In 2010, she has been awarded the DAAD-Prize for the outstanding achievement of a foreign student.