Many online review sites offer both reviews of restaurants, hotels, and companies, and a score of how good customers feel they are.

However new research at UNSW Business School suggests that men and women read these rankings in a different way, and that women prefer numerical ratings, while men like to read reviews.

Senior Lecturer Eric Lim, from the UNSW Business School suggests that “it is crucial for online service providers to draw on opinionated reviews to reduce distrust for male consumers. However, numerical rating should be emphasised for female consumers.”

He conducted the study using 115 college students and faculty members, who had been exposed to a custom developed online restaurant review website with user generated content.

“We found that men are more likely to distrust a numerical score - however if what they read has detailed analysis of, say a restaurant, which makes it clear it is a genuine review, they will then trust it much more,” he says.

However his research suggests that women care more about a score of the company’s performance, which is typically out of 5 or 10, and often presented online with images such as stars representing that score online. “Both numerical rating and opinionated review aid in alleviating the distrust of female consumers,” he says. “That’s the crucial difference - women care about the numbers.”

He also carried out some tests where the score was markedly different to the review, to see if consumers could pick this up. “Male consumers are less susceptible to the influence of cognitive dissonance between numerical rating and opinionated review.” He found women notice the difference between a high score and a poor review, or vice versa, much more.

He warns companies should study their own reviews, and those review sites which publish both reviews and score should be careful. “This study emphasises the drawback of providing both numerical rating and opinionated review at the same time due to the potential for cognitive dissonance. In effect, consumers pick this up, and women do so much more.”

For further details contact Eric Lim on 02 9385 4688 or

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887 | 0405 805 365 |