Repairing Integrity-Based Trust Violations in Ascription Disputes for Potential Customers in e-Commerce

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationMIS Quarterly
Publication statusAccepted/In press/Filed - 19 Dec 2021


Trust violations of online sellers are widely reported in customer reviews and are often ascribed to the sellers’ lack of integrity. These reported violations may reduce potential customers’ trust in the accused sellers, given the critical role of seller integrity in e-commerce. However, the accused sellers and buyers often dispute over the ascriptions of trust violations (e.g., sellers may argue that a violation is due to their lack of competence instead of integrity). The trust repair literature has inadequately focused on effective strategies to repair the reported integrity-based trust violations in ascription disputes. Drawing upon attribution theory and individuals’ cognitive sense-making process of trust violations, we propose an account-based approach through re-ascription and stability attribution enabling accused sellers to repair potential customers’ trust in them in the event of such disputes. We theorize the effectiveness of this approach by considering the contingent role of the accused seller’s reputation. Results of our laboratory experiments confirm the effectiveness of our approach in repairing potential customers’ trust in the seller with high reputation but not for the seller with low reputation. We further investigate the effectiveness of disclosing a substantive amend (i.e., financial compensation) made by the accused seller to the victim as an alternative approach to repairing potential customers’ trust in the seller with low reputation. The results reveal the significant effects of disclosing a substantive amend on repairing potential customers’ trust in the seller, regardless of the seller’s reputation.

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