Trust in Doubt


Consuming in a Post-Truth World, Special issue of Journal of the Association for Consumer Research; Deadline 31 Jan 2019


Issue Editors: Robert V. Kozinets, Andrew Gershoff, and Tiffany White

Call for Papers | Journal of the Association for Consumer Research | Volume 5, Issue 2

We are living through a strange time of alternative facts—in politics, in the marketplace, and even in our own research backyard. From major hacks, controversy-seeding bots, doubled-down lies, denial of empirical science, and Twitter wars, the process of providing proofs has been turned on its head. Trust in companies, trust in government, trust in research, trust in brands: all are in doubt. This Special Issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research is tied directly to the 2018 Association for Consumer Research conference theme. We intend it to complement and extend our field’s collective exploration of the vitally important issues of contemporary trust, and we welcome submissions that were introduced at, developed for, or inspired by the 2018 Association for Consumer Research conference. Trust happens anytime we take on vulnerability based on expectations, whenever we place our reliance in the integrity or truthfulness of someone or something. Consumers continue to put themselves into vulnerable positions by trusting companies like Equifax with their personal data, by relying on brands like VW and its clean diesel claims or United by appearing to sell you a seat, or Samsung offering phones that aren’t supposed to explode. Many consumers still anticipate that the news from media sources like Twitter or Facebook is true. They have faith in doctors who want to vaccinate you and your children. They still rely on their government to act in good faith, to regulate the cleanliness of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and to make decisions for the good of all the people. And yet, driven by one crisis of trust after another, the overall levels of trust are, by all accounts, waning in America and in many other countries and regions around the world. To add to the chaos, we face a growing replication crisis as behavioral research is called into question by falsified data scandals and post-publication statistical analyses. What are we, as consumers and consumer researchers, to believe?

As consumer researchers, we should be at the forefront of understanding and explaining trust in this new environment. This JACR special issue seeks to collect, synthesize, extend and amplify our current understanding of trust-related issues in consumption and consumer research. We want to expand the frontier of trust research by introducing new perspectives, novel findings and expert views. In doing so, we aim to identify important directions for future research and practice. We seek papers with conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and/or managerial contributions. Papers may be purely conceptual or may include empirical findings. Conceptual papers could review the findings in a relevant area and present a novel integrating framework or propose directions for future research. Empirical papers may document interesting and important effects with a plausible theory to explain these effects in consumer behavior, research, or consumer-related (public opinion, religion, social activism) contexts.

Below is a list of potential questions and topics that would fit this issue:

  • How does trust affect particular aspects of consumption, such as information search, consideration, purchase, and advocacy?
  • How is trust changing in today’s world? How does technology (e.g., social media) affect trust?
  • How is trust related to consumers’ perception of truth, truthfulness, or (to borrow Stephen Colbert’s term) “truthiness”?
  • How does trust change over time? How is trust established? How is trust maintained? How is trust violated? How is trust regained? (these can all be separate investigations)
  • How does trust influence judgments and decisions?
  • How is trust involved in word of mouth, recommendations, product claims and brand images?
  • How is trust involved in private data use and abuse?
  • How is consumption affected by trust in institutions like media, government, private industry, academia, and the legal system? How do these institutions interact?
  • How is trust configured among multiple actors and sources? How does a change in the trust of one actor (e.g., a political leader) affect the trust in another source (e.g., the government as a whole)?
  • How are trust and mistrust related to conflict?
  • What happens to brands, political parties, and universities when consumers lose trust in business, government, and science?
  • Conscious and non-conscious processes in trust and the recognition of truth
  • Emotions and trust
  • Religious beliefs and membership and belief in truth and trust
  • Goals and trust
  • Motivation and trust
  • Cultural and subcultural beliefs, belongingness, and trust
  • Neuroscience of trust

In addition to this brief list of possible topics, we welcome submissions on other topics addressing issues relating to trust and truth in consumers’ lives. As mentioned above, we welcome submissions building on the 2018 Association for Consumer Research conference, which is themed “trust in doubt” and features presentations and a forum track devoted to these topics. Authors who would like feedback on a potential project are encouraged to contact any of the editors: Robert Kozinets, Andy Gershoff, or Tiffany White. For this special issue of JACR, we hope that you will take advantage of the synergies between the ACR 2018 Conference theme and this call. We also hope to see some of your most thought-provoking and courageous work yet. We are open to all sort of formats for presenting knowledge about truth and trust. Shorter, but still rigorous, papers of 4,000 to 6,000 words are welcome. Visual essays and videographic work are welcome. Poetic and fictionalized representations are also welcome. Be creative. Be compelling. Be relevant. Come to ACR 2018 in Dallas. And, whatever you do, stay skeptical.


Papers should not exceed 8,000 words. Submissions will receive double-blind peer review. Author guidelines may be found at the JACR Guidelines for Authors page.


  • January 31, 2019 Deadline for initial manuscript submission
  • November 30, 2019 Deadline for submission of final manuscripts