Online Reviews, Helpfulness Ratings, and Consumer Attitudes: An Extension of Congruity Theory to Multiple Sources in Web 2.0

Joseph B. Walther, Y. Liang, Tina Ganster, Donghee Yvette Wohn, Josh Emington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


In online shopping, users may contribute reviews that are subject to overt evaluations from other users' helpfulness ratings. Still other users may provide comments indicating agreement or disagreement with the original reviewer. This research modified congruity theory (Osgood & Tannenbaum, 1955) to predict effects on attitudes of readers who observe contributions from three potential sources of influence: review valence, other users' aggregated helpfulness rating of the review, and another user's verbal agreement or disagreement with the review. Results supported the hypothesized interaction effect among the 3 factors affecting attitudes toward a product, toward reviewers, and commenters. The findings suggest that congruity theory provides a framework for understanding effects from a juxtaposition of sources and messages within a participatory Web system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Congruity theory
  • Helpfulness Ratings
  • Online Reviews
  • User-generated content

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