Online reviews play an increasingly important role in consumers' purchase decisions. Such internet-enabled Word-of-Mouth communication offers society a tremendous potential to reduce information asymmetries and in this way, increase the efficiency of electronic and traditional markets (Dellarocas, 2005). Voluntary reporting, however, introduces the potential for reporting biases. In this dissertation, I argue that consumers' willingness to post a review on an online forum is conditioned on the social normative landscape of this public space. I conducted four exploratory investigations of the social dynamics involved in review posting behavior. Given the broadness of the research agenda, these studies focus on different aspects of the research question and, as a result, vary in their levels of analysis and methods. As evidence, I found that review posting behavior was motivated by social obligations and regulated by social norms. Furthermore, these social motives produced systematic biases in review valence distributions. The implications of these findings are clear: Biased distribution of online product reviews can lead to inefficiencies in consumer choice and erroneous conclusions about consumer product preferences.
I investigated the hypothesis that endorsing the model minority stereotype--the belief that Asian Americans are intelligent, hard-working, and successful--increases Whites Americans' self-esteem. I argue that this occurs because Whites' self-esteem is threatened by the possibility that they do not deserve their position in society. The model minority stereotype provides evidence for Whites that minority groups can succeeded based on merit, bolstering the belief that society is fair and Whites deserve what they have. In four studies, I demonstrate the link between the model minority stereotype and self-esteem as well as for the idea that the model minority stereotype impacts self-esteem because of Whites' concerns over system legitimacy.