Do we trust the opinions of those we don’t know?

We trust our friends. That’s a given, right? But do we trust, respect, and value the views of those we don’t know because they happen to post an opinion about an organization, product or service we’re considering working with?

It seems that we do.

In the marketing industry, these contributions are known by several different names —online reviews, peer reviews, and UGC that stands for “user generated content”. But it boils down to the same thing: someone we probably don’t know has tried a product or service or worked with an organization, and provided an opinion of their experience that we are likely taking to heart.

A survey conducted by BrightLocal in December 2013 reported than an estimated 85% of consumers read online reviews and 79% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from a friend or family member.


Age plays a significant role in terms of the degree of trust. Younger people tend to place more and older people tend to place less trust in online reviews. Millennials, in a study commissioned by Crowdtap in November 2015, said they viewed online peer reviews 40% more favorably than they do of messaging received from traditional media sources including TV and radio, and print (newspapers and magazines).


But the qualifier for most survey responders was that there needed to be multiple reviews and that they must be perceived as being authentic. With that in mind, these guidelines from wikiHow offer a plan for evaluating online reviews:

  1. Disregard the highest and lowest rankings – On a 5-star scale, you might want to be cautious about both 1-star and 5-star reviews.
  2. Read many reviews and apply critical thinking — Most authentic reviews don’t present the all-bad or the all-good but rather a mixture that warrants your evaluation.
  3. Leave feedback to help others reading the review — Many sites include a “Was this review helpful to you?” rating option. If you click on the “Yes” button you help raise the reviewer’s credibility ranking and might him or her to write more reviews. If you find the review isn’t objective, you can click on the “No” button to lower the reviewer’s status.




One thought on “Do we trust the opinions of those we don’t know?

  1. Good question!

    I feel that this boils down to word of mouth and how much we trust it. True, we may be listening to the word of many strangers, but what reason do they have to lie to us? I feel that anonymous rating and discussion on products gives us a better outlook on what we should and shouldn’t by. Whether you are a stranger or not, If multiple sources state that a product or service is terrible I am inclined to avoid it.



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