1. APA Citation:
Hicks Amy, Comp Stephen, Horovitz Jeannie, Hovarter Madeline, Miki Maya, Bevan L. Jennifer (2012). Why people use Yelp.com: An exploration of uses and gratifications. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 28, Issue 6, November 2012, Pages 2274-2279.
The link is
User-generated media (UGM) refers to these media which allow users to create and share media with others such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Wikipedia. It revolutionized the way we think, communicate and entertain. Yelp.com is such kind of UGM which becomes very popular among individuals who like to read and write reviews about any type of service or rely on evaluations of other individuals who have received a service. However, there has not been much research concerning the popular website and find why so many people visit and use Yelp.com. Research into the motives behind Yelp.com users will be beneficial not only to customers but also to business industry. As such, the purpose of the paper is to explore the intentions behind why individuals visit Yelp.com from the perspective of uses and gratifications (U&G) theory. Specifically the study examines restaurant reviews on Yelp.com.
Based on previous research findings, the author posed three concrete questions.
RQ1. What are the predominant motives behind Yelp.com users rating and critiquing restaurants or reading existing restaurant reviews?
RQ2. Do individuals who use Yelp.com to rate and critique restaurants report different motives for Yelp.com usage than individuals who read existing restaurant reviews?
RQ3. Does the frequency of Yelp.com usage relate to motives for Yelp.com usage?
RQ4. Does the perceived influence of Yelp.com restaurant reviews relate to motives for Yelp.com usage?
With these questions, the author conducted a survey via SurveyMonkey.com and targeted Yelp.com users age 18 and over. Almost all the participants were recruited online through Facebook, Yahoo groups, and LinkedIn. They were also encouraged to pass the survey to other individuals who may be interested. The procedure of the anonymous survey is as follows.
After collecting the data, the author measure Yelp.com users’ motives with Internet Motives Scale on a 7-point, Likert-type scale (1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree). Meanwhile, five uses and gratifications motives were examined: interpersonal utility, pass time, information seeking, convenience, and entertainment.
Furthermore, as to the frequency of Yelp.com visits, the author measured it via a single item. The analysis is based on the six types of frequency: rarely, monthly, once a week or less, a few times a week, once a day, or multiple times a day. Also, two 5-point, Likert-type questions were combined to measure how influential participants perceived Yelp.com restaurant reviews to be.
- How influential is Yelp in making your choice to visit a restaurant?
- In general, how much of an impact do you feel Yelp restaurant reviews have on consumers?
4. Main Findings:
Through the online survey, 144 effective questionnaires have been got. And the following table shows the demographic data.
To answer RQ1 which examine the motives of users, the results show that the highest mean of the five uses and gratifications motives was information-seeking. In addition, 123 respondents chose information-seeking as their primary use of Yelp.com. As such, information-seeking is the most prevalent motive for individuals who use Yelp.com, followed by entertainment, convenience, inter-personal utility, and pass time by a large disparity. Interestingly, the results also indicate the Yelp.com’s interactive components, such as the option to invite your friends, message other users and partake in events, seem to be secondary to the website’s primary purpose of information provision for the participants.
Via a series of univariate analysis of variance tests that compared the two groups’ usage of each individual motive, RQ2’s results determined that the Yelp.com users who read and write reviews reported significantly higher means for each motive except for information-seeking than those who only read Yelp.com reviews. Uses and gratifications theory could interpret these findings. Those reader and writer group is more psychologically connected to Yelp.com than those who are only readers.
Furthermore, the data indicates that Information-seeking was also unrelated to frequency of Yelp.com visits. The results also determined that the more influential Yelp.com restaurant reviews were, the more participants endorsed the information-seeking, interpersonal utility, and convenience motives. Thus, though unrelated to frequency or whether an individual read reviews or read and wrote reviews, information-seeking was related to Yelp.com influence.
Overall, from the perspective of user and gratification theory, the study examines the motives of the popular UGM website-the Yelp.com uses and how influential a particular medium is. The utility of uses and gratifications theory will benefit other studies of UCM media such as Facebook and Myspace. Our users are not stiff but active and they can determine what media they prefer interacting with and how they use that specific media platform. Furthermore, by understanding the deep motive of website users, the managers and company owners could also benefit from that.
However, there are some pitfalls of the paper. The author conducted an online survey and analyzed the data with quantitive method. The survey was send like a snowball and only those who have strong interest in the topic would participate in it. So this is a voluntary response sample and it is not representative of the whole population. By doing so, the result may have bias of its own. In the scientific research, such methods should be avoided.