Hebrew University researchers find that trust — based on photos — is a primary factor in how much users were willing to pay
“While the effect of product attributes such as apartment size and location is rather obvious, consumers’ responsiveness to seller attributes such as reputation and personal photos has yet to be studied,” said Prof. Aliza Fleischer, the Yekutiel X. Federmann Chair in Hotel Management in the Department of Environmental Economics and Management at the Hebrew University.
... “We found that the level of hosts’ trustworthiness, mainly as inferred from their photos, affects listings’ prices and probability of being chosen, even when all listing information is controlled for.”
... “Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, the person is not the ‘selling product’ here. On Airbnb the focus is on the property and its attributes, but even so — we found that the profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success,” said Dr. Eyal Ert from the Department of Environmental Economics and Management at the Hebrew University, who co-authored the study with Fleischer.
... To solidify their findings, the researchers conducted a second study, this one with photos, reviews, and information on real properties, but with made-up profiles, centered on photos of actors and actresses – none famous enough to be easiliy recognizable but good-looking enough to appear in magazine ads, billboards, TV commercials, catalogs, etc. Here, too, it was not attractiveness that was key, but trustworthiness – with those whose faces looked trustworthy seen as better bets to rent from.