Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 37 Number 4 2020 pp. 1015-1046

Trust Change in Information Technology Products

McKnight, D Harrison, Liu, Peng, and Pentland, Brian T


We examine why trust change occurs when potential users first encounter news about a specific technology. We propose personal perceptions and three cognitive outcomes—attention, sensemaking, and threshold—affect trust change in educated young adults surveyed regarding a technology product. We find the outcomes of attention, sensemaking, and threshold positively affect trust change, while most hypothesized personal perceptions of the technology (e.g., reputation) do not predict trust change. For research, this implies scholars should focus more on cognitive outcomes of mental news brief processing than on technology perceptions. Our results also imply that research should examine other key dependent variables the way we studied trust change (e.g., “intention-to-use change”—to produce a more dynamic picture of how people adopt a technology). For practice, our data imply that tech companies can counter initial bad news about a technology by quickly providing strong positive news items to repair trust in that technology.

Key words and phrases: Trust change, trust in technology, initial trust, trust repair, cognitive attention, sensemaking, threshold; event; fragile; robust