Person Versus Company: How Target Framing Affects Consumer Reviews


Dr. Xiuping Li

NUS Business School



Review target is an important yet under-researched factor that affects how consumers provide feedback for a consumption experience. This research investigates whether framing the target as a person versus a company changes review outcomes. An analysis of qualitative reviews and numerical ratings of six million sample reviews demonstrates the positive correlation between mentioning a person’s name in the review and customer ratings. Five experiments provide causal evidence for the argument that consumers are more lenient in evaluating a person than a company, and as such, framing the review target as a person (vs. company) leads to better quantitative reviews and ratings. The experiments show that concerns for the review target mediate the effect of target framing on the review outcome. Furthermore, factors that weaken the concerns over the evaluation target will attenuate the gap between reviewing a person versus a company and moderate the effect of review target framing. Specifically, the effect of target framing diminishes when consumers believe that the review target is responsible for a negative consumer experience. 


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