To Defend or Not to Defend? How Responses to Negative Customer Review Affect Prospective customers' Distrust and Purchase Intention

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

17 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-64
Journal / PublicationJournal of Interactive Marketing
Online published5 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


Negative online reviews are a ubiquitous problem that affects every online seller at some point. It can lead to prospective consumers' distrust and decrease future purchase intention. Therefore, formulating a proper response is essential for minimizing these negative effects. Based on the ability–motivation paradigm and stability attribution, we find that apology works better when the alleged cause is relatively unstable (e.g., competence-based negative review) and when the seller has a high ability to change. However, when the alleged cause is relatively stable (e.g., integrity-based negative review) or when the seller has a low ability to change, we show that it is better for the seller to defend its reputation. In addition, we demonstrate that a remedial action plan in the seller's response can reinforce the motivation to change communicated through apology. Thus, coupled with a remedial action plan, apology works better than defending one's reputation, regardless of the negative online review type.

Research Area(s)

  • Apology, Competence-based negative review, Defend, Distrust, Integrity-based negative review, Perceived stability