What do Airbnb hosts reveal by posting photographs online and how does it affect their perceived trustworthiness?

Eyal Ert*, Aliza Fleischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The use of sellers' personal photographs online is ubiquitous in sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb. This paper addresses two questions. First, what type of personal photos do hosts choose to post on Airbnb? Second, which of the characteristics of their photos affects their perceived trustworthiness? We answer these questions by building a structural equation model of the relation between the characteristics of the photos and the perceived trustworthiness of the hosts. The antecedents of trust in this model were defined based on insights from psychology regarding first impressions. We found that the hosts' visual characteristics (e.g., gender) as revealed in their online photographs affect their perceived trustworthiness both directly and indirectly via attractiveness. We also found that image characteristics, which are not related directly to the traits of the host in the picture (e.g., photograph quality), play a significant role in trust inference. Interestingly, the hosts' choices of their personal photos suggest that they may not be aware of these effects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)630-640
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Airbnb profile
  • attractiveness
  • first impression
  • impression formation
  • peer-to-peer markets
  • sharing economy
  • trust inference


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