Are star ratings misleading shoppers?

Are star ratings misleading shoppers?
15 June 2016

When you're shopping online, looking for the best products at the cheapest prices, you might be swayed into a purchase thanks to something getting four or five stars in rating.

However, there's a bit of a problem with star ratings.

Someone's done the analysis, and crunched the numbers over 300,000 ratings across 1,300 products on Amazon, and what they found is that there's a "substantial disconnect" between the number of stars that have been awarded by the public, and the quality rating which is given to a product following independent testing.

The report says that star ratings play a big part in a shopper's decision making, even when something has what is regarded to be an insignificant number of reviews.

So, the study saw that consumers can give the same prominence to a dishwasher with two five-star ratings, than they do to a rival product with hundreds of ratings which has an average score of 4.8.

It turns out a lot of people who indulge in star-ratings are more likely to give a product an artificially positive review if something is expensive or from a well-known manufacturer, regardless of quality.

The findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Of course, there's a host of people who are hired in click-farms, to leave good reviews for products, paid for by the companies themselves, but the research didn't cover that.

Either way, the moral here is that, while some star-based ratings can be useful, they should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

1 comment

  • Captain-Cretin

    The researchers have missed something; LOTS of people give a 5 star review upon RECEIVING the item, but before using it; so if it doesnt LOOK broken, and contains everything expected, it will get 5 stars.

    Then you get the opposite, 1 star reviews from idiots; my favourite was a woman buying a tablet because she mistook the microSD slot for a SIM slot and 1 starred the item for not being a phone.

What do you think?

Your comment