Some frequent online posters may feel they have something to prove when their knowledge is in fact is deficient, marketing Professor David Wooten said.
"It's always been said that word-of-mouth communication, by and large, is something you can trust because there's no profit motive," Wooten said. "We're seeing there may be distortions in word-of-mouth that aren't related to a profit motive."
Understanding reviewers' intentions is increasingly important as 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from family and friends and 70 percent say they trust online consumer reviews, a UM release said Thursday.
Consumers trying to determine if a review is trustworthy should be on the lookout for longer reviews, language that might make them sound more intelligent, personal stories and a decidedly upbeat spin on the product, Wooten and co-researcher Grant Packard of Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario said.
"They're more positive because choosing and using a great product reflects back on them as being a smart consumer," Packard said.
Wooten said reviewers could be trying to build themselves up through their postings.
"The products you buy and display say a lot about what you think you are," he said. "We're finding that the products you talk about and how you talk about them also say a lot about who you aspire to be."