When Positive Reviews Backfire: The Effect of Review Dispersion and Expectation Disconfirmation on Airbnb Guests' Experiences


Airbnb; Expectation disconfirmation; Online reviews; Review dispersion; Word-of-mouth


Online reviews have become a significant information source for customers in decision-making. Such reviews are particularly important to firms like Airbnb as consumers have limited direct information regarding the quality of the property and the services. Researchers and practitioners, in general, favor positive reviews as they increase customers' booking intentions. However, this study theorizes that positive reviews could backfire and induce negative consequences under certain circumstances. More specifically, this research examines the interaction effects between the cause of an expectation disconfirmation and review dispersion on customers' attitudes and behavioral intention. Results indicated that when an expectation disconfirmation was caused by reviewers, participants showed more negative attitudes and lower intentions to spread positive WOM and repurchase when review dispersion was low (vs. high). In contrast, when the expectation disconfirmation was caused by property descriptions, participants reported similar responses regardless of review dispersion. Further, such interaction effects were mediated by perceived fairness.

Publication Date


Original Citation

Zhang, L., Wei, W., Line, N. D., & Cheng, Y. (2021). When positive reviews backfire: The effect of review dispersion and expectation disconfirmation on Airbnb guests’ experiences. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 96, N.PAG. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2021.102979

Document Type




Source Title

International Journal of Hospitality Management




Rosen College of Hospitality Management


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

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