Utz, S., Kerkhof, P. & van den Bos, J. (2012). Consumers rule: How consumer reviews influence trust in online stores. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 11(1), 49-58.

Abstract: Two studies examined the impact of online store reviews on consumer trust in online stores. Based on the warranting principle, it was proposed that consumer reviews are a more important cue for judging the trustworthiness of an online store than the overall reputation of the store (Experiment 1) or assurance seals (Experiment 2). The role of dispositional trust was also examined. In both experiments, consumer reviews turned out as the strongest predictor of trustworthiness judgments. Store reputation had no significant effect. In Experiment 1, there was a main effect of dispositional trust on perceived trustworthiness. In Experiment 2, dispositional trust moderated the effects of reviews and assurance seals. High trusters were more influenced by the reviews of other consumers; and only high trusters tended to be influenced by assurance seals. The results show that consumer reviews play an important role in consumer decision making, indicating that online consumer communities indeed empower consumers.

Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567422311000548