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3 Predictions Related to Reviews and Ratings Psychology

We all know about the impact of ratings and reviews making or breaking an app. Imagine the difference in reaction when an app gets a 5-star rating as opposed to a rating of 1 star. This leads us to the following question, “How does the psychology of users affect app reviews or ratings?”

There is always a love-hate relationship between apps and users. Your app is either loved or hated, depending on the UI/UX offered. What are the psychological factors associated with this love-hate relationship? We studied the psychological theory behind it and came up with certain important responsible parameters:

a. Users spend time whining about star ratings, forgetting the actual purpose

People have the tendency to dwell on criticism. Whether, evaluating an already established app, or checking out a new app, people are more observant when it comes to negative things, or missing things, ultimately leading to comparison with the peers.

Online reviews and ratings are considered social proofs by so-called social psychologists. They enable the user to decide whether an app is good or bad. Even users, without thinking twice, take them seriously and sometimes go overboard in posting nice or lame reviews. This has a huge effect on the app branding and image.

Users go for these behavioral shortcuts to judge an app. However, are all the reviews correct all the time? Think about it. Most users judge an app within short time duration without actually checking out the app. Most users follow the experience of close ones blindly. Most users download multiple apps at once without thinking twice and then regret on few ones.

We might not have enough time to evaluate an app. However, there are many of them doing this dirty work for their own benefit, or satisfaction. The convenient option we all are left with is trusting them blindly. A single star rating can act as a difference maker in breaking or making an app.

b. It is quite natural for us to criticize rather than looking at the humanity factor

People are most likely to leave a negative feedback for sure after a bad experience, instead of leaving a positive feedback for a good experience. When an app has too many positive feedbacks, it is a great achievement, but many people would wonder whether if it’s for real.

Negative reviews tend to increase over time. When people see a negative review, they tend to first check out that feature itself, and then post their own review on the same. This tendency is known as “deindividuation”, wherein users lose their ability to think wisely, and go on social inhibitions to post their ratings.

About 30% users were found not civilized in the tone they were using. When anonymous users are taken into account, this number surges to 53%. It takes a few 1-star ratings, probably just one, to take over tons of 5-star ratings that you have garnered.

It is quite easy to get provoked seeing these negative reviews. However, it is tougher dealing with it. You need to handle these negative reviews with care, as you do in case of positive reviews. Every negative review talks about your app weakness, and if you are not taking it seriously, you are allowing those weaknesses to stay within your app.

Whether true or not, negative reviews do provide a chance to look at your app, and confirm whether what users are saying is right or not. There is nothing wrong in cross checking your app, because if what users are saying is true, you can actually expose weakness and correct it yourself, uplifting your app again.

c. There is a bias in how you perceive other apps, and how your app is perceived

The reality is misrepresented, or manipulated, through reviews and ratings. They always represent the extreme ends with only a few of them actually getting vocal. Either way, it is a love relation, or hate relation, with majority users acting as neutral, however, do having an opinion.

This vocal minority group is 1%, extremely smaller when compared to 99% silent majority group. An average app never hears from the silent majority, with only vocal minority giving a call. The trend not just applies to ratings from live people, as coming from anonymous reviews.

If you have well enough social groups of well-wishers, you will have a flock of 5-star ratings or reviews flooding your app. These are the first users of your app, and will always be praising about your app around. However, there are also the ones hating you to the core. They would not even bother to give reviews to your site. Even if they will, your app is sure not to get any positive reviews. They are the ones whom you want to punish. Hence, you will do the same as most of them do i.e. post negative feedback for their app.

This is a never-ending cycle faced by most users. You will want your apps to be rated well. However, when it comes to rating other apps, you will be quite biased and more prone to rating them badly. This is a human tendency, difficult to change. Very few of them actually overcome this and receive both positive and negative reviews equally well.

Final thoughts on complex app feedback psychology

Therefore, there we have the three predictions associated with human behavior when it comes to human behavioral tendencies towards reviews and ratings. As most people think, ratings and reviews are not perfect parameters to judge the capacity of an app to deliver.

Do think what the feedback is about, what it specifically says, and then test the same yourself. Never back down from leaving a genuine positive or negative review as well as rating, and do cross check what others have to say at the same time. Do have your own opinion rather than following others blindly, and correct others if they are wrong about an app.

Every app needs a strong relevant opinion, whether positive or negative. Do respect that, in order to push every app in the right direction towards improvement. What do you have to say?

Written By

Kathy Kim is working with Fusion Informatics- a web, software and mobile application development company. She is exploring their experience through informative article with others.

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