Every now and then, the question of the value of negative reviews raises its head, which is why a recent article by the restaurant critic Jay Rayner grabbed my attention. I'm not sure its contents chime with my own thoughts on the subject, but paragraphs such as the one below certainly made for an interesting read:
The psychologist and author Oliver James tells me that, to understand [the appeal of critical reviews] ... we must look to what's called "social-comparison theory". He says we have "a natural tendency to compare ourselves with other people in order to learn how to perform better and improve our self-esteem". We can compare both upwards and downwards, but "comparing upwards is dangerous because it can make you feel inadequate". If, however, you compare down, that can have positive outcomes. "We want to hear about bad things happening to other people," James says, "because it makes us feel better about ourselves." I like this theory, because it suggests I am performing a greater service for the readers than just telling them where not to eat. I am literally brightening their day.
To see the rest of the article, please click here. I'm off to sharpen my hatchet.