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The context of the review

Whenever a friend recommends a restaurant or a book to me, I end up acting on it a lot more often than I would when I see an ad for the same book or restaurant. And somewhere in between these two lies the reviews that I get by people I don't know (the ones I can read on Amazon or Zomato).

This is simply because of the context associated with the review or the recommendation. When I look at an ad, I perceive that the objective is to make a sale and not cater to what I might like, so the trust is the lowest. When I read a review of someone I do not know, then the trust is better than when looking at an ad as this person has no vested interest in me trying out the product. But at the same time, I do not have the context of who this person is, what their likes are, how they consume certain things and whether my reaction to the product would be the same. However, when the rating or recommendation comes from a friend, I have all of that context, which makes it very easy to extrapolate how I would react to the product and whether it would be a good fit for me.

This is a problem that most non-commodity products are trying to solve and are doing it in different ways. While on Play Store, the reviews are grouped by key words to indicate how many people said a certain thing about the app, sites like Booking and Airbnb tend to show reviews from people from the user's country or city higher than the reviews left by others.

However, on more nuanced topics of the behaviour of people towards us, we tend to ignore this context.

When someone at work is trying to claim credit for our work or argue against our ideas in a meeting or are taking longer than expected to deliver something, we assume certain intent that may be coming out of generalizations equivalent to reading the review from a person we don't know. Because we don't always put ourselves in the shoes of the other person to understand the reason and the context behind their actions.

When we invest the time to understand the context, then we would be more accurate in the action we take as a consequence.

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