Thinking outside the box: a neuroscientific perspective on trust in B2B relationships

Eveline Maria van Zeeland-van der Holst, Jorg Henseler

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Purpose The concept of trust suffers from conceptual confusion. The current perspectives on trust within the B2B marketing domain could be visualised as a big box of which the borders are defined by the disciplines marketing, economics, psychology and sociology. The purpose of this paper is to enlarge the box by introducing neuroscientific insights on trust to the B2B marketing domain.
Design/methodology/approach By a literature study on neuroscientific insights on trust, this paper examines how neuroscience can help to solve existing problems within trust research and how it can address problems that otherwise might not be considered.
Findings The neural coordinates of trust not only show that trust entails cognitive and affective elements, but also that these elements are so intertwined that they cannot be completely separated. What can and should be separated are the concepts of trust and distrust: the neural coordinates of trust are clearly different from the neural coordinates of distrust. Furthermore, there are personal differences in the ease of trusting others, which are not only caused by previous experiences but also by differences in resting patterns of frontal electroencephalographic asymmetry and by differences in hormonal state.
Research limitations/implications Specifically, the neural difference between trust and distrust might shape the future research agenda for trust research within industrial marketing. It is likely that the process of distrust goes quick, whereas trust comes more slow. This is reflected in the dual processing theory, which is seen as a paradigm shift in the psychology of reasoning.
Originality/value New perspectives and directions for trust research are presented. The distinction between trust and distrust is connected to approach- and avoidance-motivated behaviour, which is highly relevant for deepening the studies on trust within industrial marketing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-110
JournalIMP Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • First impressions
  • Trust
  • Distrust
  • Neuroscience
  • Approach-avoidance
  • SOR model


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