There is currently a growing literature on the role that trust plays in encouraging consumers to engage in e-commerce transactions. Various models have been proposed which aim to identify both the antecedents and outcomes of trust displayed towards e-commerce web sites. Increased trust is generally shown to increase positive user attitude, which in turn is linked to increased willingness to buy. Studies have shown the antecedents of trust include variables such as the perceived reputation and size of the vendor organisation. The current paper explores the role of cultural variables as antecedents of trust with the main emphasis being on religious affiliation. Participants recruited from Christian, Muslim and other faiths were asked to interact with online bookstores identified as Christian, Muslim or Neutral. Trust and attitudes towards the web sites were measured and this data was used to test the hypothesis that same-religion sites would be trusted and liked more than other religion or neutral sites. This hypothesis was partially supported, but only for the Muslim participants. It was found that the Muslim group expressed significantly more trust in the Muslim site compared to the Christian site. They also expressed significantly more positive attitudes towards the Muslim online bookstore than the other two sites. The implications of these results for theories of web based trust and attitude are discussed along with the practical implications of the findings. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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