Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Trust in C2C e-commerce

Jones K., Leonard L. N. K., "Trust in consumer-to-consumer electronic commerce", Information & Management, 45 (2008) 88-95

Jones and Leonard present their findings from considering C2C e-commerce when testing on students. They provide a definition of trust by referencing [1]. In the article by McKnight et al. they define using a model based on three factors:

  • Disposition to trust
  • institution-based trust
  • trusting beliefs

Disposition to trust is based on the attitude to the trustor to others (the trustee). This attitude is based on their individual faith in humanity (a general feeling that others can be trusted) and their trusting stance (the belief that good things happen as a result of doing good).

Institution-based trust provides reassurance. It relies on the trustor feeling that a system is in place to protect them in making a decision. This is normally a promise, guarantee or legal solution. But in order to gain this assurance, the trustor has to feel that everything is normal: that normal rules apply and that each condition of the trust still applies. They must have confidence in the assurance being given.

Trusting beliefs is also based on confidence of the trustor, but the confidence the trustor has about the trustee, and this is affected by many qualities which we as humans can measure, and deem to be representative of one's nature such as integrity, competence and benevolence.

With this proposed definition of trust, Jones and Leonard proposed four potential influences on trust for a C2C e-commerce application:

  • natural propensity to trust
  • perception of website quality
  • the extent to which others trust the trustee
  • recognition from third parties

Interestingly, from the above list, Jones and Leonard conclude that only perception of website quality and recognition of third parties had any significant affect on a user's trust of a website. Although they also go on to suggest there many be other factors to consider. Speaking as a student myself, I feel the conclusions drawn by Jones and Leonard in this article are a direct result of the views of todays students in society. We so-called 'Gen Yers' have grown up with technology, and therefore e-commerce. We are familiar with it, and therefore comfortable. Our natural propensity to trust is already great as this is what we've always been doing. It's what we have had to do in order to survive online, and take advantage of the services being provided. The extent to which others trust the trustee may affect our own opinions to trust: indeed, in many instances I have used public, subject-based, forums and blogs to gauge an informed opinion on a subject. But I have also learnt not to trust these sources if I myself known a great deal on the subject already. I don't know why I have this double standard. Perhaps there is some threshold to which I suddenly become confident, and trust my own opinion over someone elses.

I've enjoyed diving into the inner workings of the word "trust", and the definition will certainly be useful when I'm considering it in the context of Web 3.0. I feel each of the proposed factors to trust will certainly affect how users feel about a website. I will be certain to consider each of the four proposed factors to influence trust. The result presented here may be valid for the sample used in the experiment, but for wider, more diverse markets these two factors alone will not suffice. A website which builds trust will be successful as users will return, and spread their stories success with their friends.

[1] McKnight D. H., Choudhury V., Kacmar C., "Developing and validating trust measures for e-commerce: an integrative typology", Information Systems Research, 13 (2002) 334-359

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