Xiaonan Zhang

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Fang Meng


Online review is an ongoing popular topic for both researchers and practitioners. Consumers’ decision-making is largely influenced by the online reviews, especially those that are perceived as trustworthy and helpful given the information overload issue and existence of fake reviews. This dissertation consists of three independent but closely related studies focusing on trustworthiness and helpfulness of online reviews in hospitality industry. The objectives of this dissertation are to explore the factors affecting review trustworthiness and helpfulness as identified in previous research and determine their relevance to consumers' real-world reading and decision-making experiences, as well as the impact of message framing on online review perceptions. Study 1 systematically reviewed the extant literature regarding the trustworthiness of online reviews. The significance of attributes related to the review, reviewer, and readers of reviews/potential customers in determining their perceived trustworthiness have been acknowledged in our study. The future research directions were further proposed based on Theory-Methodology-Context (TMC) framework. Then, Study 2 explored how consumers perceive the reviews as trustworthy and helpful using a qualitative approach. The findings suggested that factors such as review rating, photos, length, language, and reviewer profile play a role on review trustworthiness and helpfulness. However, they are often evaluated in conjunction with the review content, which remains the primary basis for consumers' judgments. At last, by applying econometric and text mining methods to secondary online review data and experimental design approach, Study 3 investigated how prevention-focused and promotion-focused online reviews influence consumers perceived trustworthiness and helpfulness of online reviews. The results indicated that promotion-focused online reviews positively impact consumers' perceptions through cognitive fluency. The effect is significant when consumers display either chronic prevention-focus or promotion-focus at relatively lower levels. However, there is no significant moderating effect of destination’s marketing message framing on this relationship. This dissertation makes a valuable contribution to extant literature on online review and message framing. Additionally, the empirical findings of this study reveal significant managerial implications for hospitality firms, particularly in the realms of review management and online review communities in website design.


© 2024, Xiaonan Zhang

Available for download on Wednesday, December 31, 2025