Ben Vollaard, Jan van Ours, 24 June 2021

Many expert product reviews are non-blind and influenced by cosy relationships between reviewers and producers that consumers are not aware of. The downside of biased reviews is largely unknown because of a lack of data and small sample sizes. Based on unique data for a long-running expert product review in the food-service industry, this column finds that a conflict of interests for reviewers led to a sizeable bias in ratings. This casts doubt on the value of non-blind expert product reviews that are not bound by very strict rules.

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