Trust antecedents in social networking services

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School of Business | Master's thesis
MSc program in Information and Service Management
MSc program in Information and Service Management
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Objective of this thesis is to identify the antecedents of trust in social networking services (SNS) and to determine their importance. Understanding the antecedents of trust is important since trust has previously been found to influence intention to use in related technologies. There has not been a comprehensive study to explain trust formation in social networking services. Social networking services continuously evolve and the norms of usage are changing, which can affect the formation of trust. Trust is important in human interactions and it is needed in effective communication, learning and problem solving. Initial trust is based on perceptions and experience-based trust is based on past behavior of the trustee. Interpersonal trust and social trust are present in social networks. Social networking services can facilitate the formation of social capital, which increases trust. Based on previous studies, the antecedents were hypothesized to be propensity to trust, perceived trustworthiness, perceived critical mass, trust towards platform, structural assurances, access to right information, information overload, perceived risk, social networks, civic engagement, and life satisfaction. Quantitative empirical research was carried out in order to confirm the hypotheses. Data were collected with an online survey and analyzed with Partial Least Squares (PLS) method. The developed PLS model predicted 68,9 % of trust in SNS and it was found valid and reliable. The research sample contained 104 respondents, who were active SNS users. Research findings support that perceived critical mass, social networks, civic engagement, and life satisfaction have positive effect on trust in social networking services. Additionally, propensity to trust and access to right information could have positive effect on trust in social networking services. Perceived trustworthiness could have negative effect when it reflects the evaluation of perceived trustworthiness. The most important finding was that social capital almost solely predicts trust in social networking services. The results apply to a post-adoptive situation where experience-based trust is present. There is further the need to study trust antecedents in pre-adoptive situations and the influence of trust on usage.
social networking services, interpersonal trust, social trust, social capital
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