Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Public Relations


Hua Jiang


affective trust, relationships, social media

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this thesis is to determine how consumers relay trust to their favorite brands on social media sites, define affective trust, and how consumers interact with their favorite brands on social media. In-depth interviews were conducted with 22 individuals living across the United States who were in different career fields and stages of life. The findings from this study revealed that not too many of the participants followed Starbucks on mainstream social media sites, but followed them on their propriety application. This application was talked about in multiple interviews where participants talked about the features of the application and how they trust that the content that Starbucks provides will be trustworthy and honored in each one of its cafes. The participants also recognized what trust is but each provided a different definition, which could be combined to allow for the creation of a universal understanding. Each participant was also asked to describe good and bad experiences that they have had with Starbucks or other brands to help them reflect on what can be done better and how trust was developed or broken. Based off of these findings, the researcher further discussed how trust and relationships are important to consumers and brands while making recommendations for the creation of a universal definition for affective trust and recommendations on how to manage a brand’s image and credibility among consumers based off of their interactions in stores or online.


Open Access