Judgement devices and the evaluation of singularities: the use of performance ratings and narrative information to guide film viewer choice

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Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Kerry Jacobs, participants at the Managing Popular Culture Workshop, University of Edinburgh, April 2015, Ingrid Jeacle (Special Issue Editor) and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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1 These properties of singularities are discussed in more detail in the next section.

2 See Lamont (2012) for a detailed review of this literature. At this stage, relatively few accounting studies have drawn explicitly on SVE theories. For exceptions, see Annisette and Richardson (2011); Annisette and Trivedi (2013); Chenhall, Hall, & Smith (2013).

3 In a test of expert reviewer comments in the performing arts, Shrum (1996) found that expert reviewers only agreed 61% of the time, or 75% of the time, depending on the measure of agreement used.

4 Karpik (2010) notes that individuals need to see judgement devices as credible, or to ‘trust’ the judgement device. In the accounting literature, Jeacle and Carter (2011) demonstrate how a judgement device (namely, the ratings used in the TripAdvisor system) can be used to engender trust.

5Karpik (2010) also identifies ‘appellations’ and ‘confluences’ as examples of judgement devices. Appellations refer to things such as quality labels, and brand names, while confluences refer to techniques used to channel buyers, such as store layout and location. Neither of these appears to be specifically relevant to the cinematic context. In the case of appellations, films are not typically associated with, or labelled with a particular ‘brand’ (although ‘franchise’ films such as, for example, the Die Hard series of films, could arguably be said to constitute a ‘brand’, albeit not in the traditional sense). In the case of confluences, issues such as store location and spatial layout is irrelevant, as the location of a particular theatre within a cinema complex is not normally disclosed until after the ticket purchase, and thus would not reasonably be expected to influence a filmgoer’s choice of film. For these reasons, appellations and confluences are not considered in the paper from this point onwards.

6 The IMDb site does not do this.

7 Sauder and Espeland (2006) note the potential for multiple ranking systems to exist, and argue that the presence of multiple rankers creates ambiguity as to the relative standing of the items under evaluation, and as a result, may undermine the validity of the rankings. Having said this, Sauder and Espeland (2006) also note that while the proliferation of ranking systems may limit the influence of any single set of rankings, it may also serve to reinforce the legitimacy of rankings as a means of evaluation.

8 Individual consent is not required when collecting data from publicly accessible sites.

9 The Watchlist feature enables users to identify films and TV shows they would like to watch in the future and stores this information in a list.

10 Source: http://www.imdb.com/pressroom/about/, accessed 17 February 2015.

11 Source: http://www.imdb.com/pressroom/about/, accessed 17 February 2015.

12 Source: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?voteaverage&ref_=hlp_brws, accessed 26 February 2015.

13 Source: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?listfaq&ref_=hlp_brws, accessed 27 February 2015

14 Source: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?whyregister&ref_=hlp_brws, accessed 26 February 2015.

15 Source: http://www.imdb.com/help/additional_authentication, accessed 26 February 2015.

16 In a study of spectators of a performance arts show, Shrum (1996) found that 14% of the sample attended purely due to relationships with other attendees.

17 Blank (2007) notes that this can also apply in a negative sense, that is, a reader may choose to avoid a particular film that a critic recommends, based on being unhappy with previous recommendations by that reviewer.

18 Rotten Tomatoes is another well-known film review site with similar properties to IMDb.

19 It is possible that our findings in this regard are due to the nature of the singularity being considered. This is discussed in more detail in Section 6.4 of the paper.

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Judgement devices and the evaluation of singularities: the use of performance ratings and narrative information to guide film viewer choice

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