University of Wisconsin - Green Bay


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Steven Muzatko

Steven Muzatko

Fall 2012

"The Moderating Effect of Website Seals on Reputation and Design as Determinants of Website Trust"

Grant in Aid of Research

Final Report: "The funds received from Grants in Aid of Research were used to offset the cost of attending and presenting research at the annual national meeting of the American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences (ASBBS). The meeting occurred during February 21-24, 2013. The research presented at the annual meeting is related to a study being co-authored with Gaurav Bansal, an assistant professor at UW-Green Bay. The study examines the influence of webpage assurance seals on a participant's level of perceived trust of internet websites. Internet seals are a means by which internet retailers can convey trustworthiness to consumers (Cook and Luo, 2003). Since the advent of web-based commerce, research has been completed to assess whether web assurance interacts with perceived trustworthiness of a website (e.g. Rifon, et al., 2005; Bansal, et al., 2010; Karimov, et al., 2011). Our study extends that research by examining how determinants of website trustworthiness are impacted by the presence or absence of website seals. The two factors examined are website reputation and website design. The data for the study was collected from December 2011 to May 2012. The study was conducted online. Subjects were assigned to view one of three versions of a website for a fictitious computer retailer and repair service provider. The versions differed as to the level of website seals included. One version had no website seals, one version had three website assurance seals (TRUSTe, WebTrust, Verisign), and the final version had the three assurance seals along with two social media seals (Facebook and Twitter). After viewing the websites, the subjects completed a series of questions to identify their perception of the level of trust towards the website followed by questions pertaining to their own personal dispositions toward privacy concerns. Students were also asked demographic information such as age, major, and university standing. A total of 252 usable responses were collected. The evidence provides support that website seals lead to greater perceived trust of websites. We also find that reputation and website design are significant factors in determining the level of website trust. Finally, our study extends current research findings by providing evidence that reputation plays a significantly larger role in determining consumer trust in a website when website seals are absent. We find weak evidence that the role of website design in determining trust diminishes in the absence of website seals. The results of this experiment were presented on February 22, 2013, at the ASBBS annual meeting. The paper was included in the Decision Sciences track. Critique and discussion from the research presentation was used to make modifications to a paper that will be submitted to a scholarly journal. In addition to presenting research at the conference, I attended conference presentations for tracks related to other research interests (sessions including Auditing and Forensic Accounting, Financial Accounting, Accounting Education, and Behavioral Accounting)."

Fall 2011

"Skepticism, Trust as it Relates to Webpage Assurance, and Probabilistic Inference"

Grant in Aid of Research