Specialization helps ‘build trust among Web users’

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - An international team of researchers has revealed that web users are likely to use products, which are labelled to do specialized tasks rather than the general ones.

In an experiment to investigate how people perceive the trustworthiness of online technology, researchers found that participants trusted websites, recommendation-providing software and even computers labelled to perform specific functions more than the same Internet tools with general designations.

“In general, the attribution of specialization can increase the credibility of a product or any kind of object. It’s really how the human psyche works,” said S. Shyam Sundar, Professor of Communications, Penn State.

Researchers randomly assigned a group of 124 undergraduate students to buy wine with websites, recommendation agents and computer monitors that were labelled either as specialized wine purchasing-technologies, or as general e-commerce technologies.

The specialized tools differed from their generalized counterparts only in the way they were labelled and in specific on-screen cues during the experiment, said Sundar.

Credibility appeared to increase when participants used more than one specialized tool at the same time for the wine-buying task.

“It’s a cumulative interaction. When at least two out of the three layers of online sources were labelled specialist, there was an increase in the trust and credibility among the users,” said Sundar.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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