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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100
Fax: 08-9466267

Department Head:
Prof. Ayal Kimhi, Tel: 08-9489376

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Dr. Iddo Kan, Tel: 08-9489233

Miri Arazi, Tel: 08-9489230

What do Airbnb hosts reveal by posting photographs online and how does it affect their perceived trustworthiness?


Abstract The use of sellers' personal photographs online is ubiquitous in sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb. This paper addresses two questions. First, what type of personal photos do hosts choose to post on Airbnb? Second, which of the characteristics of their photos affects their perceived trustworthiness? We answer these questions by building a structural equation model of the relation between the characteristics of the photos and the perceived trustworthiness of the hosts. The antecedents of trust in this model were defined based on insights from psychology regarding first impressions. We found that the hosts' visual characteristics (e.g., gender) as revealed in their online photographs affect their perceived trustworthiness both directly and indirectly via attractiveness. We also found that image characteristics, which are not related directly to the traits of the host in the picture (e.g., photograph quality), play a significant role in trust inference. Interestingly, the hosts' choices of their personal photos suggest that they may not be aware of these effects.

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Last updated on 06/18/2020