A classification and investigation of trustees in B-to-C e-commerce: General vs. specific trust

Jason Bennett Thatcher, Michelle Carter, Xin Li, Guang Rong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Existing literature lacks a common taxonomy and systematic integration necessary for building cumulative knowledge on the nature of trust in an information systems context. Hence, this article explores online trust's multidimensional nature within the context of online stores. This article develops a framework for classifying trust dimensions and to investigate their influences on behaviors in new and familiar business-to-consumer (B-to-C) ecommerce environments. Specifically, we classify trust dimensions into two levels: general trust (beliefs toward the general e-commerce environment and infrastructure) and specific trust (beliefs regarding a specific e-commerce shopping experience). Specific trust is further delineated into trust in the merchant and trust in the technology artifact, i.e., the website. The integrative framework was tested in two separate empirical studies using e-commerce stores that were either new or familiar to the subjects. The results show that general trust mechanisms are important to consumers in a new e-commerce environment. In contrast, when shopping in a familiar e-commerce store, consumers pay more attention to the current Web experience, diminishing the salience of general trust. This article contributes to the literature by developing an integrative framework of trust and by providing insights into the influences of trust dimensions on purchase decisions in new and familiar e-commerce environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-134
Number of pages28
JournalCommunications of the Association for Information Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • B-to-C e-commerce
  • Familiarity
  • General trust
  • Purchase intention
  • Specific trust
  • Trust dimensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems


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