Who needs trust when you know everything? Dealing with information abundance on a consumer-review Web site
Date of Issue2016
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
Ideas about trust have been based on information scarcity. To overcome the uncertainty associated with choice, people gather information; when that is not enough, they turn to trust in order to make a decision. Consumer-review Web sites offer information abundance, however, which demands a re-evaluation of the function of trust under such circumstances. This study uses a survey to investigate the role of trust in the traveller review site TripAdvisor. It uses five concept pairings — two measurements of experience using the site, two forms of uncertainty, two mechanisms of information-seeking, two forms of trust and two behavioural outcomes — to explore how trust operates amidst information abundance. It proposes that while consumer-review Web sites overcome primary uncertainty (risk of making a poor choice) by providing information, they produce a secondary uncertainty (inability to assess all options) based on concerns about processing the mass of information efficiently. This study finds that trust plays a role in reducing both primary and secondary uncertainty, but not in decision-making. It proposes that trust may be subsumed into information seeking on information-abundant consumer-review Web sites, and discusses implications for how trust is understood and what it means for effective reviewer sites.
Consumer Review Sites
Consumer Review Sites
© 2016 First Monday. This paper was published in First Monday and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of First Monday. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i7.6313]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.