This article explores the important role of liking in the development of the buyer's trust in the sales rep. The authors argue that liking's role is richer and qualitatively different from that of the more cognitive antecedents of trust. They posit that many cognitive antecedents of trust operate mainly through liking. They argue that as the buyer--sales rep relationship matures, liking plays an even more important role in influencing trust. The authors empirically test a model delineating the mediating role of liking in developing trust. They find that when the relationship between the buyer and the sales rep is young, liking partially mediates the effect of similarity of business values and fully mediates the influence of frequency of personal interaction on trust. Moreover, as the buyer's relationship with the rep ages, liking takes the foreground in trust development, while more cognitive antecedents recede into the background.
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