How much is a picture worth? Online review picture background and its impact on purchase intention

Mingyue Zhang, Haichuan Zhao, Haipeng (Allan) Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study examines the impact of online review picture background and its interplay with product type and review features (e.g., star rating, texts) on consumers' purchase intention. Consumers make inferences about the reviewers' socioeconomic status (SES) from the background of online review pictures. Drawing on the social comparison literature, we find that the review picture background reflecting low SES triggers a stigma effect (threat to self-evaluation) for a mainstream (high-end) product, leading to decreased (enhanced) purchase intention. In addition, the stigma effect for a mainstream product is accentuated when there are multiple low-SES pictures, and when one low-SES picture is coupled with a positive (vs. negative), fit-oriented (vs. quality-oriented) textual review. However, the enhancing effect of one low-SES background picture for a high-end product continues to hold even when it is presented with multiple high-SES background pictures; the effect is reversed when there are multiple low-SES pictures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Shanghai Pujiang Program (Grant No: 2019PJC036 ), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant Numbers: 2019ECNU-HWFW027 , 2018ECNU-HLYT027 ), and Shanghai Philosophy and Social Sciences Research Program (Grant No.: 2020JG003-EGL194 ), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Numbers: 71902104 , 72102074 ), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant No.: 2017M612299 ), and Young Scholars Program of Shandong University .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • High-end product
  • Online review picture background
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Star rating
  • Textual review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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