Researchers and practitioners have long thought that web seals are effective means to improve a web-site’s trustworthiness. However, studies demonstrated that web seals sometimes fail to exhibit the de-sired effect. Drawing on literature on cognitive complexity and the trust tipping point, this study inves-tigates whether a website’s default trustworthiness (i.e., the trustworthiness of a website without a web seal) may play a pivotal role in explaining the inconsistent findings. We conducted a randomized online experiment with 240 participants and found support for the assertion that below a certain level of trust-worthiness (i.e., the trust tipping point), web seals show a significant effect on a website’s trustworthi-ness. Yet, if the website’s default trustworthiness is above the trust tipping point, web seals do not sig-nificantly increase a website’s trustworthiness. Consequently, our study provides an unprecedented per-spective on the effects of web seals on a website’s trustworthiness by considering a website’s default trustworthiness.
Adam, Martin; Niehage, Lars; Lins, Sebastian; Benlian, Alexander; and Sunyaev, Ali, "Stumbling over the Trust Tipping Point – The Effectiveness of Web Seals at Different Levels of Website Trustworthiness" (2020). ECIS 2020 Research Papers. 3.
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