Seeking reward or avoiding risk from restaurant reviews: does distance matter?

Esther L. Kim, Sarah Tanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the extent to which consumers will exert more effort to avoid risk (negative reviews) versus seek reward (positive reviews) when making a restaurant decision. Design/methodology/approach: This study investigates the influence of distance and review valence on restaurant decisions. A 2 (base restaurant review valence: negative, neutral) × 2 (target restaurant review valence: neutral, positive) × 2 (distance: 30 min, 60 min) between-subjects factorial design was used. Findings: People exert more effort to seek a reward versus avoid a risk. People will drive any distance to dine at a restaurant with positive reviews. However, the tendency to avoid a restaurant with negative reviews declines as distance increases. Practical implications: This study emphasizes the critical role of positive reviews in the restaurant industry. This research provides guidance to operators to manage online reviews effectively. The marketing strategy taking into account review valence and distance allows the business to attract new customers and grow its customer base. Originality/value: This research synthesizes asymmetry effects and prospect theory with the level of risk associated with the outcome. This research is theoretically noteworthy since the finding of a reverse asymmetry principle is in contrast with the traditional belief of risk-avoidance when comparing gains and losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4482-4499
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number12
StatePublished - 22 Nov 2019


  • Asymmetry
  • Effort
  • Heuristics
  • Online reviews
  • Reward-seeking
  • Risk-avoidance


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