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Trust-assuring arguments to enhance consumer trust in internet stores : an experimental investigation Kim, Dongmin

Abstract

A trust-assuring argument refers to "a claim and its supporting statements used in an Internet store to address trust related issues." Whether it is statements placed on a website about a store's privacy policy or a symbol representing third-party assurances, we cannot assume a priori that such presence will necessarily increase consumer trust. To analyse and test the effectiveness of trust-assuring arguments in promoting consumer trust in Internet stores, and also to delineate guidelines for effective implementation of these arguments, a series of three interrelated studies have been conducted. Drawing from a model of trust and the customer resource life cycle, the first study identifies the important trust related issues (or concerns) about which Internet stores need to provide arguments in order to increase consumer trust. It categorizes the identified issues into four groups: issues related to personal information, customer service, product price/ quality, and store presence. In the second study, Toulmin's model of argumentation is proposed as a useful method of constructing trust-assuring arguments to amplify the effects of the arguments on consumer trust in Internet stores. Three forms of arguments have been identified based on Toulmin's model of argumentation in our study and their effects on consumer trust in Internet stores have been investigated in a laboratory experiment. The results suggest that the application of Toulmin's model can bolster the effects of trust-assuring arguments on consumer trust in Internet stores. The third study compares the relative influence of a store's trust-assuring arguments on consumer trust to that of third party certifications, by analyzing three factors: the content of the arguments, the sources of the arguments, and the relevance of the argument topics to consumers' personal interests. The main focus of the study involves identifying the conditions in which one feature (either a store's trust-assuring arguments or third party certifications) is more effective than the other. The results of a laboratory experiment suggest that when the relevance of the argument topics to a consumer's personal interests is high, a store's trust-assuring arguments are as effective in increasing consumer trust in the store as third party certifications with equivalent content.

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