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Do I Follow My Friends or the Crowd? Information Cascades in Online Movie Ratings


  • Young-Jin Lee

    () (Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado 80208)

  • Kartik Hosanagar

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Yong Tan

    () (Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195)


Online product ratings are widely available on the Internet and are known to influence prospective buyers. An emerging literature has started to look at how ratings are generated and, in particular, how they are influenced by prior ratings. We study the social influence of prior ratings and, in particular, investigate any differential impact of prior ratings by strangers (“crowd”) versus friends. We find evidence of both herding and differentiation behavior in crowd ratings wherein users’ ratings are influenced positively or negatively by prior ratings depending on movie popularity. In contrast, friends’ ratings always induce herding. Further, the presence of social networking reduces the likelihood of herding on prior ratings by the crowd. Finally, we find that an increase in the number of friends who can potentially observe a user’s rating (“audience size”) has a positive impact on ratings. These findings raise questions about the reliability of ratings as unbiased indicators of quality and advocate the need for techniques to debias rating systems. This paper was accepted by Sandra Slaughter, information systems .

Suggested Citation

  • Young-Jin Lee & Kartik Hosanagar & Yong Tan, 2015. "Do I Follow My Friends or the Crowd? Information Cascades in Online Movie Ratings," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(9), pages 2241-2258, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:61:y:2015:i:9:p:2241-2258

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    2. repec:eee:proeco:v:191:y:2017:i:c:p:97-112 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:10:p:1836-1850 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:indorg:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:188-215 is not listed on IDEAS


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