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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Management and Information Systems

First Advisor

Abhijit Biswas

Second Advisor

Sujay Dutta

Abstract

Consumers’ ratings of products are ubiquitous in the online marketplace (e.g., Amazon; Yelp). The rating scales provided by online businesses typically comprise a set of stars that appear in the form of linear scales. Consumers looking to purchase a certain product likely rely on product ratings based on these rating scales. Although past research confirms the intuitive expectation that a higher star rating for a product elicits more favorable responses from consumers, there is a paucity of research related to effects of the properties of the scales themselves on consumers’ psychology. The literature on cognitive processing of information suggests that varying properties of scales might affect people’s processing of them and in turn their perceptions. Both 5-point and 10-point star-based rating scales, i.e., scales with a total of 5 and 10 stars respectively, are common in the online marketplace. Using relevant theories from the cognitive processing literature, this dissertation investigates whether the number of scale points in a rating scale affects consumers’ perceptions of product quality and their purchase intention. The results of three studies show that when a specific rating (e.g., 80%) is presented on a 10-point star-based scale (i.e., 8 out of 10 stars), perceptions of product quality and consumers’ intention to purchase the product are higher compared to when the same rating is presented on a 5-point scale (i.e., 4 out of 5 stars). Implications and limitations of this research are discussed, and directions for further research are provided.

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