What Trust Means in E-Commerce Customer Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Conceptual Typology

D. Harrison McKnight and Norman L. Chervany
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 6, Number 2, Winter 2001-2002, pp. 35.

Abstract: Trust is a vital relationship concept that needs clarification because researchers across disciplines have defined it in so many different ways. A typology of trust types would make it easier to compare and communicate results, and would be especially valuable if the types of trust related to one other. The typology should be interdisciplinary because many disciplines research e-commerce. This paper justifies a parsimonious interdisciplinary typology and relates trust constructs to e-commerce consumer actions, defining both conceptual-level and operational-level trust constructs. Conceptual-level constructs consist of disposition to trust (primarily from psychology), institution-based trust (from sociology), and trusting beliefs and trusting intentions (primarily from social psychology). Each construct is decomposed into measurable subconstructs, and the typology shows how trust constructs relate to already existing Internet relationship constructs. The effects of Web vendor interventions on consumer behaviors are posited to be partially mediated by consumer trusting beliefs and trusting intentions in the e-vendor.

Key Words and Phrases: Customer relationships, human issues in e-commerce, Internet consumers, trust.