Tell me your age and I tell you what you trust: The moderating effect of generations

Carolina Herrando*, Julio Jimenez-Martinez, M. J. Martin-De Hoyos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The proliferation of social commerce websites has allowed consumers to share and exchange information, experiences, advice and opinions. Recently, information provided by users has been considered more trustworthy than the information shared by companies. However, the way in which users interact with technology can vary with age, and generational cohorts show different shopping behaviors, interests and attitudes. Hence, the way users process information (user-generated vs company-generated) can affect trust differently. Drawing on the trust transfer theory and the generational cohort theory, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects on user- and company-generated information in boosting trust of three different cohorts (Generation X, Y and Z). Design/methodology/approach: The data were collected through an online survey. The sample comprised 715 users of social commerce websites, aged between 16 and 55 years old. The study was analyzed using partial least squares with the statistical software Smart PLS 3. Findings: The empirical results show that generational cohorts show different patterns. Generation X transfers trust to social commerce websites mainly from trust in information generated by companies, while Generation Z transfers trust mainly from information generated by users. Finally, Generation Y, in contrast to previous findings about millennials, develops trust based on company-generated information to an even greater extent than does Generation X. Originality/value: The originality of this study lies in its analysis of generational differences when it comes to trusting one type of information over another. This study contributes to the idea that users cannot be considered as a whole but must be segmented into generational cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-817
Number of pages19
JournalInternet research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Generation X
  • Generation Y
  • Generation Z
  • Generational cohort theory
  • Social commerce
  • Trust transfer theory


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