Signals of Trustworthiness in E-Commerce: Consumer Understanding of Third-Party Assurance Seals

Signals of Trustworthiness in E-Commerce: Consumer Understanding of Third-Party Assurance Seals

Kathryn M. Kimery (Saint Mary’s University, Canada) and Mary McCord (Central Missouri State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-937-3.ch021
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Abstract

Signaling theory provides the framework to address three main research questions: (1) How accurately do consumers notice and recollect TPA seals on retail Web sites? (2) How familiar are consumers with major TPA seals? and (3) How accurately do consumers understand the assurances represented by the TPA seals? Results of this study of three major TPA seals (TRUSTe, BBBOnLine Reliability, and VeriSign) reveal that subjects have poor recall of TPA seals viewed on a Web site, have limited familiarity with TPA programs, and have incomplete and largely inaccurate perceptions of the assurances that TPA seals represent. These results suggest that TPA seals may not fulfill their potential to influence consumer trust in e-commerce because the signals are not noticed on merchant Web sites or adequately understood by consumers.

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