What trust means in e-commerce customer relationships: An interdisciplinary conceptual typology

D. Harrison McKnight, Norman L. Chervany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1509 Scopus citations


Trust is a vital relationship concept that needs clarification because researchers across disciplines have defined it in so many different ways. A typology of trust types would make it easier to compare and communicate results, and would be especially valuable if the types of trust related to one other. The typology should be interdisciplinary because many disciplines research e-commerce. This paper justifies a parsimonious interdisciplinary typology and relates trust constructs to e-commerce consumer actions, defining both conceptual-level and operational-level trust constructs. Conceptual-level constructs consist of disposition to trust (primarily from psychology), institution-based trust (from sociology), and trusting beliefs and trusting intentions (primarily from social psychology). Each construct is decomposed into measurable subconstructs, and the typology shows how trust constructs relate to already existing Internet relationship constructs. The effects of Web vendor interventions on consumer behaviors are posited to be partially mediated by consumer trusting beliefs and trusting intentions in the e-vendor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-59
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Electronic Commerce
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Customer relationships
  • Human issues in e-commerce
  • Internet consumers
  • Trust


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