The rise of on-demand economies has forced consumers to increasingly rely on evaluating service providers through a digital medium. Research has found that Americans’ trust in others has declined over the past several decades, while their trust in strangers from on-demand sharing economies is contrastingly high. In many cases however, the trust goes too far, resulting in negative or even dangerous experiences for both the service provider and customer.
One area where digital trust is being widely implemented is in online marketplaces for pet care services. Popular sites and mobile applications like Rover and Wag provide on-demand dog walking and pet sitting services for pet owners. Even with their vetting and background check process for walkers and sitters and review and ratings system, there have been innumerable accounts of pet owner’s negative experiences, such as lost dogs, injured pets, and household theft. This brings into question whether existing digital ranking systems are trustworthy enough for pets, which are important parts of their owners’ lives.
This thesis investigates how to more effectively build trust in high stakes service-provider relationships. Through initial research, it was discovered that it is difficult to build trust and credibility when searching digitally for pet care service providers because of a lack of personalized information and social networks of recommendations. In order to solve this problem, several designs were explored in order to determine the best way to present specific aspects of the service provider profile in the form of a mobile application. Specifically, many design explorations focused on the idea of exploring recommendations of user’s real-world connections through the mobile application.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Pet sitting--Computer network resources--Evaluation; Dog walking--Computer network resources--Evaluation; Trust--Social aspects; Internet--Social aspects
Visual Communication Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CAD)
Chang, Belinda, "Pal: Building Trust in High Stakes Service Provider Relationships" (2020). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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