The Effects of Advising Strength on Users' Trust and Distrust in Online Recommendation Agents: The Moderation Role of Source Credibility and Recommendation Familiarity

Project: Research

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Organizations increasingly provide online product recommendation agents (RA) to advise consumers on what products to buy and to promote their own products. An effective presentation of a product advice has been considered one of the most significant factors in determining the success or failure of persuasion. However, as cases of Internet fraud rise, consumers have become increasingly suspicious about online recommendation services. Marketing research has suggested that the effectiveness of an advice presentation (strong versus weak advising strength) is affected by consumers’ levels of suspicion on the advising attempt. A strong presentation is more persuasive than a weak one when consumers are not suspicious, whereas the opposite is observed when consumers are suspicious. In this light, this project intends to examine the persuasive effects of RA advising strength by considering the moderating role of users’ suspicion on an RA.In terms of persuasive outcomes, the existing literature primarily examines the beneficial outcomes of recommendation services (e.g., user trust), whereas user distrust in these services has been largely ignored. The persuasion literature has suggested that distrust and trust are distinct constructs. Given the rising consumer suspicion on recommendation services, distrust has emerged as a critical factor in influencing the effectiveness of these services. Consequently, this project will investigate the differential effects of advising strengths on both trust and distrust in RAs, as well as the asymmetric and distinctive effects of trust and distrust on users’ behavioral intentions.Two experiments will be conducted to manipulate users’ levels of suspicion on an RA. In experiment (1), the source credibility of an RA will be manipulated as a means to investigate how it will moderate the effects of advising strengths on users’ trust and distrust in the RA. In experiment (2), users’ suspicions will be manipulated through their familiarity with the product recommendations provided by the RA.To my knowledge, this will be the first research that investigates the role of user suspicion on an RA in the effectiveness of a presentation it uses to deliver product advice. Moreover, this research will fill the theoretical gap in mitigating user distrust in an emerging domain of online recommendation technologies. The results of this study will provide practitioners with guidelines for designing trustworthy and distrust-free RAs for online consumers. With the provision of effective recommendation services, companies can build stronger relationships with consumers via such services, leading to more successful e-businesses.


Project number9041613
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1127/03/13