Although trust and distrust are both crucial in online truster-trustee relationships, researchers disagree as to whether trust and distrust are distinct from each other. Given this debate, it is important to consider how distrust could be distinguished from trust. Accordingly, this paper extends the nomological network of distrust and introduces two novel antecedents never introduced in e-commerce literature: situational abnormalities and suspicion. We also propose that trust and distrust coexist in an online e-commerce relationship and can result in ambivalence when they both have high attitudinal values (represented in emotions, beliefs, or behaviours).

Using a study of online consumer behaviour with 521 consumers, we largely validated our newly proposed model. We find that situational abnormalities and suspicion are separate, important novel antecedents to distrust. We also examine the effect of ambivalence on the truster’s intentions towards the website and find a small positive effect that increases the user’s intentions towards the website. Finally, we demonstrate the coexistence of trust and distrust as separate constructs, and highlight that distrust has a much larger impact on the truster’s intentions than trust. We conclude with implications to theory and practice, along with a discussion of the limitations and future opportunities.