Online restaurant or food reviews tell a lot about the psychology, claim the researchers at the Stanford University.
The researchers used a software to examine 900,000 reviews of 6,548 restaurants, from fast food to luxury restaurants, on Yelp.Com. The reviews covered restaurants in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington DC.
The objective of the research was not to examine online and what they tell about restaurants or food, but rather what the reviews tell about people, their psychology. According to Dan Jurafsky, a Stanford professor of linguistics and one of the co-authors, the review had meanings that are hidden in the way people use words and connotations.
The researchers found the usage of metaphors of sex and sensual pleasure in the positive reviews of expensive restaurants. Moreover, the words to describe the positive experience at luxury restaurants were longer and fancier. On the other hand, negative reviews had the language of personal trauma and poor customer service.
The good reviews of cheap restaurants often had metaphors of drugs or addiction; while, the negative reviews function as a means of coping with service-related trauma. Most of the negative reviews seem to be caused by bad customer service rather than just bad food or atmosphere.
According to the researchers, the language of negative reviews resembled the language of people who have been traumatised by tragedies or the deaths of loved ones. The study was published the journal First Monday.
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