When the stars shine too bright: Assessing the influence of multidimensional ratings on overall product ratings



Online ratings are said to reflect consumer satisfaction, but they can be biased by the review system’s design. We examine two rating designs—single-dimensional (SD) rating systems that elicit overall ratings only, and multidimensional (MD) rating systems that elicit both dimensional and overall ratings—and how they impact ratings. Drawing on the selective-accessibly theory, we argue that dimensional ratings in MD systems become more accessible in one’s mind; consequently, these dimensional ratings act as implicit anchors, thus biasing overall ratings. We support this explanation by a series of studies. Our results suggest that overall ratings are influenced by the rating system's design—across various experimental settings, rating items, dimensions, and numbers of dimensions