“Who are these people?” is a question I occasionally get asked when someone finds out that I study the language of online reviews. Of course, what they really want to know is what motivates only some people to write reviews, since this is not a practice that all of us engage in. Are there a core set of features that characterize a “reviewer personality”? (The answer to this last question is “probably not.”)
Some scholars who have studied reviewer motivations have found that people are motivated by various reasons. These range from a sense of altruism (that is, wanting to “give back” to a review site that they themselves have used and benefited from), to – no surprise here! – venting feelings of anger or frustration. Others write reviews because they like the idea that their opinion matters to people.
Most recently, I was asked this question by writer Liz Segran. She also interviewed a number of Elite Yelp reviewers, and she gained a lot more insights about review writing as a creative outlet. Check out the story she wrote about this topic for Fast Company.