Does this Yelp review make me sound mentally distressed? We all know that online user reviews are indispensable to the restaurant industry, but now a team of Stanford researchers has found that they can actually do more than help or harm a restaurant’s reputation: How you write your reviews can actually reveal your inner self.
“Our results demonstrate that portraying the self, whether as well–educated, as a victim, or even as addicted to chocolate, is a key function of reviews and suggests the important role of online reviews in exploring social psychological variables,” wrote the Stanford research team, led by linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky.
In plain English, that means that the way we word our Yelp reviews reveals our inner personality and temperament. Negative reviews at expensive restaurants, for instance, were often very emotional and revealed that the review functions as a means of coping with “service–related trauma” with Yelp serving as almost a form of therapy. Positive reviews of cheaper restaurants found instances of addiction to fatty or sugary food and extremely high emotions, while positive reviews of expensive restaurants revealed “sensory pleasure.”
The team studied patterns in over 900,000 online reviews, and their results appeared in the April 7 issue of the journal First Monday.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter on @JoannaFantozzi