Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Effect of product review interactivity, social inequality, and culture on trust in online retailers: A comparison between China and the U.S.

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Media and Communication

First Advisor

Louisa Ha (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Gi Woong Yun (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lisa Hanasono (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Philip Titus (Committee Member)

Abstract

This study is the first study that compared the predicting strength of the effect of the micro factor (interactivity of product review use experiences) and macro factors (social inequality and culture) on consumers’ trust in online retailers. It examines the predictor of online trust by information asymmetry theory, reciprocity, in-group favoritism and out-group derogation, and social presence. Consumers of the two largest e-commerce sites in the United States and China, Amazon and Tmall, are compared. The results show the interactivity of product use experience is the strongest predictor of consumers’ trust in online retailers compared to social inequality and culture. The interactivity is positively related to consumers’ trust in famous brands, third-party retailers, and fulfilled third-party retailers of both Amazon and Tmall. In contrast, social inequality is negatively related to consumers’ trust in famous brands, third-party retailers, and fulfilled third-party retailers of both Amazon and Tmall. Individualism is positively related to trust in third-party retailers while collectivism is positively related to trust in third-party retailers fulfilled by Amazon or Tmall. Power distance exerts a positive impact on trust in famous brands only. Collectivism plays a more critical role in predicting trust in fulfilled online retailers in Chinese sample than in the U.S. sample.

The relationship of trust in online retailers and consumers’ actual online purchases is different across countries. Trust in online retailers is an important direct predictor of online purchase diversity and indirect predictor of the amount of money spent online in both the U.S. and China. And it is a direct predictor of online purchase frequency in the U.S., but an indirect predictor of purchase frequency in China. Trust in online retailers is positively related to the amount of money spent on Amazon/Tmall indirectly by affecting shopping frequency on Amazon/Tmall.

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