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Abstract

Online product recommendation agents are becoming increasingly prevalent on a wide range of websites. These agents assist customers in reducing information overload, providing advice to find suitable products, and facilitating online decision-making. Consumer trust in recommendation agents is an integral factor influencing their successful adoption. However, the nature of trust in technological artifacts is still an under-investigated and not well understood topic. Online recommendation agents work on behalf of individual users (principals) by reflecting their specific needs and preferences. Trust issues associated with online recommendation agents are complicated. Users may be concerned about the competence of an agent to satisfy their needs as well as its integrity and benevolence in regard to acting on their behalf rather than on behalf of a web merchant or a manufacture. This study extends the interpersonal trust construct to trust in online recommendation agents and examines the nomological validity of trust in agents by testing an integrated Trust-TAM (Technology Acceptance Model). The results from a laboratory experiment confirm the nomological validity of trust in online recommendation agents. Consumers treat online recommendation agents as " social actors" and perceive human characteristics (e.g., benevolence and integrity) in computerized agents. Furthermore, the results confirm the validity of Trust-TAM to explain online recommendation acceptance and reveal the relative importance of consumers' initial trust vis-¨¤-vis other antecedents addressed by TAM (i.e. perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use). Both the usefulness of the agents as "tools" and consumers' trust in the agents as "virtual assistants" are important in consumers' intentions to adopt online recommendation agents.

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