Self-disclosure and trust in the shared economy: a cross-cultural comparison

Peter Broeder


Airbnb is one of the fastest-growing businesses within the sharing economy. In this online marketplace, hosts can list their spare rooms, apartments, or houses as accommodation for Airbnb guests in return for money. Since customers tend to be careful when booking a stranger's house, trust is one of the most important elements of Airbnb. One concrete way of establishing trust is self-disclosure. This study explored online marketplaces such as Airbnb and their users with a framework on how self-disclosure in personal descriptions can be used to increase booking intention. An online experimental survey with two conditions was conducted (implicit vs. explicit host self-disclosure). There were 129 Dutch participants and 71 Chinese participants from China. Contrary to our expectations, implicit language in self-disclosure by the Airbnb host led to more trust than explicit language. Airbnb guests from the Netherlands had higher booking intentions and more trust in the Airbnb host after reading an implicit self-disclosure compared to guests from China. These cultural differences disappeared with the explicit self-disclosure profile.


consumer behavior, marketing, trust, shared economy, cross-cultural studies, Airbnb.

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