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Impacts of user interactions on trust development in C2C social commerce : The central role of reciprocity

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The purpose of this paper is to understand the effect of two types of reciprocity (restricted reciprocity and generalized reciprocity) on customers’ trust in social commerce (s-commerce) and trust performance (purchase intention and word-of-mouth intention). Furthermore, this study examines how individual and contextual moderators (personal shopping experience and community shared language) could impact the trust development process.


This study adopted a survey method and obtained data from 287 users in a customer-to-customer (C2C) s-commerce platform. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the research hypotheses.


The results demonstrate that two types of reciprocity positively affect trust in s-commerce. Customers’ trust performance is significantly affected by trust in s-commerce. Additionally, shopping experience in s-commerce is found to positively moderate the relationship between restricted reciprocity and trust in s-commerce.

Research limitations/implications

The findings help to understand the nature and role of reciprocity in influencing trust and trust-related behaviors in the context of C2C s-commerce. The research also helps to explore the individual and contextual moderators that impact the effect of reciprocity on trust development.

Practical implications

The results offer a comprehensive view of trust building strategies for s-commerce practitioners, including shoppers, vendors and managers of s-commerce platforms.


This study is among the first few research studies that offers a theory-based conceptualization of reciprocity in C2C s-commerce and provides empirical support for the impact of reciprocity on customers’ trust in C2C s-commerce. In addition, this study devises a broader view of reciprocity based on restricted and generalized exchange principle to represent the interaction of vendor–shopper and shopper–shopper, respectively.
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Keywords: C2C s-commerce; Generalized reciprocity; Restricted reciprocity; Trust; WeChat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong 2: Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, China

Publication date: February 23, 2020

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