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Adi is a social business blogger and community manager that writes for sites such as Social Business News and Social Media Today. Away from the computer he enjoys cycling, particularly in the Alpes. Adi is a DZone Zone Leader and has posted 1115 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The impact of environmental factors on reviews

04.14.2014
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Reviews are hugely important for restaurants, hotels, even doctors.  That much is pretty widely established now, and has contributed to the rapidly growing industry in the provision of fake reviews.

A new study highlights the important role context plays in the submission of reviews.  After all, there are an awful lot of factors that go into each review that may not be replicable when you yourself are visiting a place.  The person might have had a bad day, or the main chef in the restaurant may have been off sick that day.

The study, led by Saeideh Bakhshi from Georgia Tech, focused on the role of something dear to the heart of every Brit – the weather.  The study looked at over 1 million reviews of over 800,000 restaurants in more than 32,000 cities to try and determine the role weather plays in the kind of reviews people leave.

“People love to describe themselves as foodies. But in the end, it looks like we’re all weather people, whether we realize it or not,” said Saeideh Bakhshi.

The study found, for instance, that the number of reviews left for restaurants spiked during the summer months.

“The best reviews are written on sunny days between 70 and 100 degrees,” said Bakhshi. “Science has shown that weather impacts our mood, so a nice day can lead to a nice review. A rainy day can mean a miserable one.”

In addition to the weather, the study found that education levels significantly impacted the number of reviews left.  In areas with a high percentage of college graduates, it was almost three times as likely that a review would be left than in an area with a low frequency of graduates.

The hope has to be that with enough reviews posted, these relative anomalies will be averaged out and you’ll still get a decent picture of what the place is really like.

“Our findings could help consumers better understand online reviews and ratings and help review sites calibrate recommendations,” the researchers said. “Outside factors apparently introduce bias in online ratings of a highly reviewed restaurant in big cities compared to a similar place in a rural area.”

Suffice to say, with any submission of personal opinion there will be a great deal of context involved in that review that may make it difficult to replicate the findings. The hope has to be that with enough reviews posted, these relative anomalies will be averaged out and you’ll still get a decent picture of what the place is really like.

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