With the development of social networks and the Internet-based sharing economy, shared short-term rentals are emerging as a new kind of service that provides a convenient way for people to buy short-term rental services in cities through social-network-enabled platforms. However, like other social-network-based services, shared short-term rental is also likely to be impacted by online reviews. This paper aims to investigate the impact of online reviews on users’ purchase decisions toward shared short-term rentals, and further to provide optimization suggestions for the future advance of shared short-term rentals. The contributions of this paper are many-fold. First, we introduce the Stimuli-Organism-Response (SOR) model into the study and propose new variables for the model, including stimulus variables, organism variables, response variable, and moderating variables. Second, we propose eight hypotheses to evaluate the impact of online reviews on users’ purchase decisions toward shared short-term rentals. Finally, we collect data through a questionnaire survey and present comprehensive results on many aspects. Based on the data analysis, we find out that the quality of online reviews impacts users’ perceived value and perceived risk, which in turn impacts users’ purchase decisions toward shared short-term rentals. In addition, the cognitive needs of users can adjust the impact of online reviews on the perceived risk of users but have no explicit adjusting effect for users’ perceived value. Further, we present some research implications as well as suggestions for rental platforms to advance shared short-term rentals in the Internet age.
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