People Post More Negative Restaurant Reviews When the Weather Is Miserable

He always takes a nap after writing a bubble-tea-shop takedown.
He always takes a nap after writing a bubble-tea-shop takedown. Photo: Zurijeta /Shutterstock

Here’s something interesting: A new study suggests that you’re more likely to tear into your local pizza parlor if you had to walk in the rain to get there. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs took a look at online customer-review data gleaned from sites like Citysearch, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare to determine that very cold (less than 40°) and very hot (more than 100°) temperatures correspond to the “most negative reviews,” the New York Times reports.

After running the numbers — some 1.1 million reviews of 840,000 restaurants written between 2002 and 2011 were taken into account, representing all 50 states — several interesting trends emerged from the models. Sushi restaurants routinely outperformed hamburger places, and consistently sunny and breezy places had a greater number of excellent reviews, while reviews from perpetually drizzly cities like Seattle had the greater tendency to suppress superlatives. (Take a look at the abstract here.)

“The best reviews are written on sunny days between 70 and 100 degrees,” researcher Saeideh Bakhshi tells Science Daily. It’s long been known that restaurateurs see a steep drop-off in business on frigid and sweltering days (when people would rather not leave the house). This data suggests, however, that diners tend to be more critical in inclement weather — the same lousy weather that should prompt owners to pay even more attention when customers take refuge inside their restaurants.

Online Reviews? Keep This in Mind [NYT]
Demographics, Weather and Online Reviews: A Study of Restaurant Recommendations [Yahoo Labs]