Effects of specialization in computers, web sites, and web agents on e-commerce trust

Yoon Jeon Koh, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Suppose you went shopping online for wines and visited several sites, each recommending particular reds and whites. Which kind of site are you likely to trust morecostco.com or wine.com? The specialization implied by the latter suggests more expertise in the domain of wines. Does it mean that you are more likely to purchase wines recommended by sites such as wine.com and vintagecellars.com.au than those recommended by generalist sites such as costco.com and samsclub.com? Our study attempts to answer this question by experimentally investigating how specialization in media technology (specifically, web agent, web site, and computer) influences individuals' perception and attitudes towards sources in online communication, particularly consumer trust and purchase behaviors in e-commerce. All subjects (N=124) went to a specially constructed online site with a virtual shopping cart for a wine-purchasing task, as part of a 2 (specialist vs. generalist web agent)×2 (specialist vs. generalist web site)×2 (specialist computer vs. generalist computer) between-subjects experiment. Results indicate significant main effects and interactions of the agent, site, and computer specialization on trust and purchase decision time. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-912
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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