How to Deal with the Negativity Bias of Online Reviews


We’ve all been there. Who hasn’t had a bad online review. To a caring doctor it can feel like someone gutted you in the stomach with a knife. You spend so much of your time trying to do the right thing for patients and then one comes along and writes a review about you that hurts. The reason why this happens is due to the negativity bias.


"When making judgments, people consistently weight the negative aspects of an event or stimulus more heavily than the positive aspects.This is also true of impression-formation: when given descriptions of a hypothetical person's moral and immoral behaviors, or adjectives describing the person's good and bad traits, subjects process and use the negative more than the positive information in arriving at a final impression of the person, even when the positive and negative information are equally intense."1

The truth is that bad online reviews carry way more weight than good ones. Even one really bad review can skew your average. So what can you do about it? Well, for one you can respond to it in a caring and compassionate manner. You can reach out to the individual and try to remedy the problem. After trying to resolve things you can clarify on the review site with comments about how you dealt with things, and make sure you do it non-defensively.

But, one thing you may not have thought about is looking at how hotel review sites work. Well, a secret to getting consistently glowing reviews is pretty interesting. A lot of hotels not only respond to bad reviews with a comment online, but they also respond to every single good one. Having a bunch of good reviews is great, but when you respond to each positive review with thanks and uplifting comments it says a lot about where your heart is at.

This may be the secret key to undoing that one bad review that sticks out like a sore thumb in your otherwise pristine online presence. But, don’t just take it from me, start analyzing every review site that you use whether it be or Take a mental note when you see a particularly good response to a positive or negative review. You may just find a standout tip that helps set you apart from the pack.

About the Author

Dr. Molly is passionate about using technology to improve the lives of patients and healthcare providers. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of...

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