Sharing economy and the issue of (dis)trust

Eva Hofmann, Barbara Hartl, Ann-Marie Nienaber

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Economy has changed; while in earlier times the possession of goods has been important to
consumers, nowadays consumers rather try to have access to them (Belk, 2014). The so-called
sharing economy enables consumers to share goods and services, such as rooms (cf. Airbnb),
mobility services (cf. Blablacar), or self-produced vegetables (cf. community gardens). The Internet
was key to the development of the sharing economy; with this achievement, the sharing economy
expanded (Puschmann and Alt, 2016), and research on the sharing economy accumulated.
Trust is a fundamental aspect that keeps the sharing economy running (Möhlmann, 2015). Trust
means that consumers make themselves vulnerable toward different actors (Rousseau et al., 1998).
There needs to be trust toward the sharing organization (e.g., Airbnb), toward consumers offering
their goods and services, toward other consumers and also toward the technology providing the
platform. Several articles (e.g., Kong et al., 2020) address the important issue of trust in the sharing
economy, but the more or less antagonist of trust, i.e., distrust, has not been addressed in research
so far. Distrust is often seen as an individual’s unwillingness to accept vulnerability to the actions
of other people based on pervasive negative perceptions and expectations of the other people’s
motives, intentions, or behaviors (Bijlsma-Frankema et al., 2015). The relevance of distrust often
resonates implicitly in the publications on trust in the sharing economy (e.g., Möhlmann, 2015),
but was not explicitly addressed in previous research. For that reason, the current Research Topic
opens up a forum, in which research not only on trust but also on distrust in the sharing economy
can gain center stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 2
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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