In this study, we apply the uncertainty reduction theory from communication to delineate the antecedents of consumers' trust in online product reviews. We test the competing effects of information content (argument quality) and social component (perceived background similarity) on consumers' trust in reviews. We also hypothesize that the strength of the effect is moderated by consumers' involvement. To test the hypotheses, we adopted a 2 × 2 × 2 repeated measures experimental design. The results show that both argument quality and perceived similarity contribute to increased trust but in varying degrees. The results provide mixed support to the moderating role of involvement. While argument quality played an important role in the high involvement mode, perceived similarity explained more variance in the low involvement mode. We discuss the implications of these results for both research and practice.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.