Trust the Words: Insights into the Role of Language in Trust Building in a Digitalized World

Part of the Progress in IS book series (PROIS)


There is more to words than just the meanings they convey. Especially in online settings in which information about others is limited, the words employed play an important role in assessing an interlocutor’s trustworthiness. Therefore, based on ability, benevolence, and integrity as the components of trustworthiness, we investigated word usage in three exemplary digitalized settings. The first scenario is a peer-to-peer discussion in online forums (e.g., when students need support in overcoming their procrastination). The second scenario is searching for online health advice (e.g., retrieving health information from other users with varying medical expertise). The third is online communication with spoken dialogue systems (e.g., asking Apple’s® Siri® how to find one’s way in an unknown town). Referring to the word usage in the respective communication setting, we address central language-related trust issues: (a) self-disclosure and the communication of empathy, (b) technical language and cues regarding the fragility of evidence, and (c) perceiving a shared view through lexical overlaps. The contribution ends with an outline of future research on the interplay between these three issues and trust.


Trust Communication Self-disclosure Spoken dialogue systems Technical language 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MünsterMünsterGermany

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