Reputation scores and seller photos are regarded as two types of signals promoting trust in e-commerce. Little is known about their differential impact when co-occurring in online transactions. Using a computer-mediated trust game, the current study combined three photo conditions (trustworthy, untrustworthy and no seller photo) with three reputation conditions (positive, negative and no seller reputation) in a 3×3 within-subject design. Buyers ratings of trust and number of purchases served as dependent variables. Significant main effects were found for reputation scores and photos on both dependent variables and there was no interaction effect. Trustworthy photos and positive reputation contributed towards buyers trust and higher purchase rates. Surprisingly, neither untrustworthy photos nor negative reputation performed worse than missing information. On the contrary, completely missing information (no reputation, no photo) led to distrust and differed significantly from completely negative information (low reputation, untrustworthy photo), which resulted in a neutral trust level. Overall, the data suggest that not only does positive information increase trust, but mere uncertainty reduction regarding a seller can also contribute towards trust in online transactions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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