Give to Get: A Mechanism to Reduce Bias in Online Reviews

Executive Summary:

  • A common problem with online reviews is polarization bias: There are many extremely positive or negative reviews and few moderate opinions. This can give a misleading view of opinion about products, services and companies.
  • This study presents new statistical evidence showing how one of Glassdoor’s key incentive policies — known as the “give to get” policy — helps reduce polarization bias and encourages more neutral and balanced company ratings on Glassdoor.
  • Based on a large sample of more than 116,000 reviews submitted to Glassdoor between 2013 and 2016, we compare the distribution of star ratings for users who faced the give to get policy with a statistically matched control group that did not face the policy.
  • We find statistically significant evidence Glassdoor’s give to get policy reduces polarization bias in online company ratings. It reduces the likelihood of extreme 1-star and 5-star reviews by 3.6 percentage points and 2.1 percentage points, respectively. And it raises the likelihood of more moderate 3-star and 4-star reviews by 2.6 percentage points and 2.9 percentage points, respectively, providing a more balanced view of jobs and companies than would otherwise be the case.
  • Although many online review sites suffer from polarization bias, these findings suggest it is possible to create more balanced and representative platforms by providing non-monetary economic incentives that encourage more moderate online users — who are often absent from online platforms — to share their opinions online.

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