All Is Right with the World: Schema Congruity and Trust Beliefs in B2C Electronic Commerce

All Is Right with the World: Schema Congruity and Trust Beliefs in B2C Electronic Commerce

Sharath Sasidharan (School of Business, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2015100105
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Business-to-Consumer e-commerce vendors view consumer trust as an important determinant of purchasing intent. Based on the cognitive dissonance and schema-congruity theories, this paper examines the impact of schema-congruity between the website design elements of color and typography with the product context in impacting trust. Websites perceived as compatible with subconsciously internalized belief systems and hence deemed schema-congruent by consumers are expected to engender higher levels of trust. A controlled experimental study involving 128 participants spanning eight different schema-congruency conditions was conducted. Results indicated that completely schema-congruent websites engendered higher levels of trust. Partially schema-congruent and schema-incongruent websites registered significantly lower levels of trust due to cognitive dissonance arising out of their incompatibility with consumer belief systems. The judicious selection of color and typography perceived as schema-congruent with the product context can serve to enhance consumer trust in e-commerce websites.
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B2c E-Commerce Trust

Trust forms one of the fundamental tenets of human existence. From a sociological perspective, trust has been theorized as:

The willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or confront that other party. (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995, p. 712)

Researchers have adopted differing perspectives while adapting and extending this definition of trust to an e-commerce setting. For example, trust has been viewed as the intrinsic faith that consumers have in the integrity of the e-commerce merchant and the implicit belief that the merchant will not take unfair advantage or indulge in fraudulent activities. Another approach conceptualizes trust as a state of mind wherein consumers are aware of fraudulent activities and unfair practices that could be committed by the e-commerce merchant, however, they are willing to risk being subject to these injustices (Bartikowski & Singh, 2014; Chang & Fang, 2013; Cyr, 2013; Holsapple & Sasidharan, 2005; Lowry, Twyman, Pickard, Jenkins, & Bui, 2014).

Prior studies have focused primarily on the structural features of e-commerce websites that influence trust. For example, website quality, integration with online user communities, current and accurate product descriptions, and providing details relevant to the consumer have been found to enhance consumer confidence in the website. Other recommended practices include ensuring the safety, security, and integrity of online transactions through appropriate encryption technologies, incorporation of third-party certification and assurance seals, integration with independent third-party reviewers, partnerships with trusted entities, and explicit disclosure of privacy, security and compensation practices. While some of these approaches might alienate consumers in the short-term, an open and honest approach conveying respect to the consumer can result in a long-term trusting relationship built around a core of repeat buyers with locked-in purchasing intentions (Chang, Cheung, & Tang, 2013; Hong & Cho, 2011; Kimery & McCord, 2002; Lee & Turban, 2001; MacDonald, 2014).

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