Consumer trust and distrust: understanding how they form and develop

  • Carmen Mal

Student thesis: Phd


The main aim of this thesis is to understand how and why consumers come to trust and distrust brands and companies behind brands. Three studies are presented which address three research questions: 1) How and why do consumers decide to trust/distrust brands and companies behind brands? 2) How does information processing order affect consumer trust formation? 3) How do corporate misbehaviors affect consumer distrust? Four main conclusions emerged from these three studies: 1) consumers evaluate both product and company related aspects for trust/distrust decisions 2) the same aspects are responsible for both consumer trust and distrust 3) higher consumer trust towards new or unknown brands is likely to occur when company information is evaluated first and product information is evaluated second 4) integrity related misbehaviors are most likely to predict consumer distrust. These findings mainly contribute to existing consumer trust/distrust research, conducted in the context of brands and companies behind brands. But they also contribute to the trust literature, and in particular to the debate around the nature of trust and distrust, by providing evidence that, in the context of brands, consumer trust and distrust are polar opposite constructs in terms of antecedents, since the same aspects are evaluated by consumers for both trust and distrust judgements towards brands. The findings of this thesis are relevant to practitioners, as they imply that the same strategies should be effective for managing both consumer trust and distrust, and that communicating to consumers about both the products and the company behind a brand might help build higher levels of consumer trust.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGary Davies (Supervisor) & Audra Diers (Supervisor)


  • corporate misconducts
  • factors
  • order effects
  • consumer distrust
  • consumer trust
  • brands

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