Digital Identity: The Effect of Trust and Reputation Information on User Judgement in the Sharing Economy

Mircea Zloteanu, Nigel Harvey, David Tuckett, Giacomo Livan

The Sharing Economy (SE) is a growing ecosystem focusing on peer-to-peer enterprise. In the SE the information available to assist individuals (users) in making decisions focuses predominantly on community generated trust and reputation information. However, how such information impacts user judgement is still being understood. To explore such effects, we constructed an artificial SE accommodation platform where we varied the elements related to hosts' digital identity, measuring users' perceptions and decisions to interact. Across three studies, we find that trust and reputation information increases not only the users' perceived trustworthiness, credibility, and sociability of hosts, but also the propensity to rent a private room in their home. This effect is seen when providing users both with complete profiles and profiles with partial user-selected information. Closer investigations reveal that three elements relating to the host's digital identity are sufficient to produce such positive perceptions and increased rental decisions, regardless of which three elements are presented. Our findings have relevant implications for human judgment and privacy in the SE, and question its current culture of ever increasing information-sharing.

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