Consumer trust, perceived value and behavioral intention in online auctions

網上拍賣中顧客信任, 認知價值和行為取向

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Pui San Bessie CHONG

Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
Award date15 Feb 2005


This dissertation investigates the relationships between consumer trust, perceived value and behavioral intention in online auctions. The author intends to integrate the socio-psychology, marketing and economic theories for understanding how consumers conceptualize trust and how it affects their perception and intended behavior. Online auction is chosen for study because the context of consumer-toconsumer (C2C) online auction is unique in which the consumers incur a higher risk than in any other form of e-commerce. Consumer trust is divided into two facets, which are Trust in Seller (TIS) and Trust in Intermediary (TII). However, prior e-commerce researches are focused on investigating consumers’ trust in online retailers, which only highlight the importance of trust between the vendors and consumers. As a consequence, the buyer’s trust in the seller in C2C e-commerce is less recognized. Therefore, the first objective of this study is to conceptualize the dimensions of TIS and TII separately. After a thorough literature review, content analysis and a group discussion, it is confirmed that TIS and TII are multi-dimensional in which the most commonly used dimensions are integrity, competence and benevolence. Integrating the trust model into the intention-based model, a theoretical framework is developed to investigate the primary antecedents of consumer trust and the mechanism that converts consumer trust into perceived value and intention to use online auctions. Two elements of the model are worth mentioning. First, consumer trust is divided into two facets, TIS and TII, and a multi-dimensional scale is developed to measure them separately. This was intended to assess the institutional effect (trust transfer effect) on the formation of TIS. Second, the inter-relationships among trust, perceived value and behavioral intention are examined. A survey was conducted and the empirical findings show that the three dimensions of TIS and TII tend to factor together, in which experienced and inexperienced subjects conceptualize TIS differently. The results imply the existence of the halo effect, in particular for experienced subjects. This is contradictory to previous researches where the halo effect has been shown to be smaller when respondents are familiar rather than unfamiliar with what is being evaluated. The quality of consumer satisfaction from past experience is used as an argument for supporting the survey findings. Consistent with the hypotheses, there is a positive relationship between TIS, TII and Trust in Online Auctions (TIA). An institutional effect of TII on TIS is also found. Moreover, TIA positively affects perceived value of consumers in online auctions and finally their behavioral intention. However, contrary to the hypothesis, there is no direct relationship between TIA and behavioral intention. Instead of having a direct impact on behavioral intention, TIA has a significant influence on how consumers evaluate the cost and benefit of participating in online auctions, that is the perceived value, which, in turn, would influence their intention to use online auctions. Thus, lack of trust should not be, as quoted in many e-commerce literatures, the primary reason that discourages consumers from bidding online. It is the value perceived by consumers that affects their decisions, and the role of trust is affecting consumers’ value judgment in the decision of participating in online auctions. Researches have been done on trust in e-commerce. Yet, there are still some gaps in those researches. First, there is a lack of knowledge on the interrelationships between buyers, sellers and intermediaries in e-commerce. Second, there is a lack of knowledge on using a multi-dimensional scale to measure TIS and TII separately even though a large body of literature in marketing and psychology suggests that trust is multi-dimensional. Third, there is a lack of knowledge on how trust is conceptualized and developed between inexperienced and experienced subjects. Forth, there is a lack of knowledge on how perceived value mediates the relationship between trust and behavioral intention. This research fills up those gaps. The theoretical contributions of this study include its understanding of the conceptualization of online consumer trust and the findings of three important effects, which are the halo effect on conceptualization of trust, the trust transfer effect, and the mediating effect of perceived value. It identifies the differences of experienced and inexperienced subjects in conceptualizing trust and finds that experienced users have a less differentiated, but more global conceptualized construct of trust (TIS). Previous studies have addressed that trust attributes tend to factor together even though they are conceptually different, but they have not provided a theory to support the argument. This research has tentatively ascribed this to the halo effect, and the statistic figures support the findings. This study provides an insight into the halo effect in conceptualizing online consumer trust. It builds a broad perspective of understanding the trust building process in an online trading environment. Findings of this study give a theoretical-guided explanation on the tendency of trust attributes factoring together. It addresses how the differences of subject groups (i.e., experienced and inexperienced subjects) and measurement targets (i.e., seller and intermediary) will influence the ability of identifying and being identified by the multidimensionality of trust attributes, which provides a reference for factor structuring. Moreover, this study further confirms that trust is transferable, institutional trust can supplement the lack of trust in seller (unknown target). It highlights the affiliated relationship between the intermediary and seller in the trust building process, which, however, has been ignored in many studies of online trust. This study shows that TII can reinforce TIS, and the positive direct relationships between TIA and TIS as well as TIA and TII exist. However, the factor TIS has a stronger impact on the formation of TIA. A broader term, perceived value, instead of perceived risk, is used to study the relationship between trust and behavioral intention. Contradictory to previous studies, in which significant positive direct relationship between trust and use of ecommerce is found, this study shows that the significant positive direct relationship between trust in online auctions and intention to use is not found, but the dominant mediating role of perceived value in the relationship between trust and behavioral intention is found. The findings of this study confirm the competing models of the trust-risk-behavior relationship proposed by Gefen (2002) and the differences of the role of trust and risk in long and short-term relationship studied by Fukuyama (1995). This study highlights the overstating significant of trust on behavioral intention and the ignorance of the mediating effect in previous studies. This study suggests a research direction in the interrelationships between trust, value, and behavioral intention in e-commerce. This study also gives insights to consumer e-businesses. The findings of the halo effect and influence of perceived value provide reference for e-tailers in crafting new businesses and customer retention strategies effectively. Due to the limited resources, e-tailers, in particular e-business start-ups, should invest more resources on the attributes, which generate the largest halo effect and/or greatest consumer value. By making use of the halo effect, e-tailers would be able to ultimately improve the overall consumers’ perception of online trust and customer relationship, and also increase site stickiness. As the click of the mouse is so convenient and the cost of recruiting an online consumer is so high, it is more important than ever for etailers to understand how to lock in (retain) the customers.

    Research areas

  • Consumer behavior, Internet auctions