Interpersonal trust erodes over time in the online world, experts say

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Interpersonal trust erodes over time in the online world, experts say

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:07 pm

When people interact in an Internet community, they experience higher levels of trust initially. But as time passes and more information comes to light about other users, they are more wary, according to new Stanford research.
Technology reduces overall uncertainty and promotes trust between strangers. But at the same time, it erodes some of the serendipity involved in meeting new people, according to the article by Paolo Parigi and Karen Cook in Stanford's Sociology Department. Parigi, an assistant professor, studies social networks, trust and cooperation; Cook, the Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, researches social exchange, social networks and trust. As Parigi and Cook describe it, the Internet has become a new realm for human interaction among people from different backgrounds, especially in online communities where members seek feedback from strangers on products and services – feedback that is, surprisingly, granted a lot of credibility. "Remarkably, what appears to be a very difficult act in the offline world – creating interpersonal trust – is a routine activity for organizations operating within this segment of the economy," they wrote.

Roots of trust
For their research, Parigi and Cook examined Couchsurfing, a website that supports international travel and cultural exchange. Its members both host visitors and surf the site to find sympathetic lodging as they travel the world, all without exchanging money. Profile pages of members list Couchsurfing friends and other personal information. The findings revealed, the researchers wrote, an interesting mechanism at the root of interpersonal trust: "The accumulation of ratings about users (whether guests or hosts) had a double-edged effect on trust and relationships: it made relationships easier to establish initially but it also weakened them after a certain threshold." In other words, technology boosted interpersonal trust among users at first, but it also made it more difficult to build stronger ties as users acquired more and more reviews.
For example, early on, social ties originated through a process of mutual discovery. As one user said, "He [the guest] would speak, and I would often listen. It was the first time I ever invited a stranger into my home, and the first time I ended up speaking to a stranger until the late hours of the night."

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-interpersonal-erodes-online-world-experts.html

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