Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

James R Brown

Committee Co-Chair

Annie Cui

Committee Member

M P Fitzgerald

Committee Member

Mark B Gavin

Committee Member

Michael F Walsh


This three-essay dissertation examines how trust is developed and recovered in the buyer-seller relationship. Specifically, the first essay examines how initial facial trustworthiness evaluations subconsciously affect trust perceptions based on an approach-avoidance decision. Findings from fMRI meta-analysis of nine studies supported this theory and uncovered the network of brain regions involved in this process. In the second essay, a grounded theory approach was used to examine trust recovery in the buyer-seller relationship. The results of this analysis indicated a three-step trust repair process is an optimized approach for achieving trust recovery. Contrary to the dominant view in the literature, this trust repair process focused on "making things right" with buyer instead of using persuasion techniques to shift blame for the trust damaging incident to a source external to the salesperson. The third essay developed a conceptual model for understanding trust recovery that was examined through the lens of equity theory. A longitudinal business-to-business experiment and a business-to-business survey provide evidence that fairness is a key missing mediator to increased trust recovery that explains why both verbal and behavioral repair strategies are effective.