The Defensive Trust Effect: Consumers’ Defensive Use of Belief in a Just World to Cope With Consumption Threat

Andrew Wilson, St. Mary's College of California, USA
Peter Darke, Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada
Consumers cope with many threatening consumption situations, including: concerns about receiving poor service, difficult decisions, and misleading persuasion attempts. Existing evidence suggests that consumers often react to such threats by displaying greater distrust towards marketers (e.g., Darke & Ritchie, 2007). In contrast, the current research shows threat can have paradoxical effects on trust. Specifically, consumers with high belief-in-a-just-world coped with consumption stress by increasing their trust in the relevant marketing agent, relative to those who did not maintain such beliefs. These findings support predictions based on CEST (Epstein & Pacini, 1999) and control theory (Rothbaum et al., 1982).
[ to cite ]:
Andrew Wilson and Peter Darke (2010) ,"The Defensive Trust Effect: Consumers’ Defensive Use of Belief in a Just World to Cope With Consumption Threat", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 929-930 .