Is that authentic or artificial? Understanding consumer perceptions of risk in e-service encounters

Mauricio S. Featherman, Joseph S. Valacich, John D. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


As companies race to digitize physical-based service processes repackaging them as online e-services, it becomes increasingly important to understand how consumers perceive the digitized e-service alternative. We theorize that consumers often perceive e-services as being artificial and non-authentic, and that consumers must perform this assessment when deciding whether new e-services are viable alternatives to traditional service methods. This research investigates whether consumer perceptions of artificiality increase perceptions of e-service risk, which has been shown to hamper consumer acceptance in a variety of online settings. An empirical study operationalized perceived artificiality (PA) within a controlled laboratory experiment that manipulated the risk of a specific e-service class (e-payments). For a specific e-service brand, PA is reduced when the web interface is viewed as easy to use; alternatively, PA is increased when consumers have relatively high risk perceptions about the overall e-service class. Furthermore, consumers who were rated as information technology innovators had lower overall artificiality perceptions, however, exposure to negatively framed e-service efficacy information removed this artificiality reducing effect. The theoretical linkages between PA and perceived risk, and the two antecedents - ease of use and e-service class risk - were confirmed by survey results. The implications of these results for future research as well as the design and marketing of e-services are examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-134
Number of pages28
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Artificiality
  • Authenticity
  • Perceived risk
  • Virtuality
  • e-commerce
  • e-service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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