The mediating effects of customers’ intimacy perceptions on the trust-commitment relationship
Purpose This paper aims to draw from intimacy theory in examining the mediating effects of interactive communication and social bonds on the trust commitment relationship. Design/methodology/approach The study is conducted in the professional services context. Qualitative and quantitative data are gathered from respondents engaged in attorney client and real estate client relationships. Unstructured, in-depth interviews are first conducted for use in model development. Study hypotheses are examined and mediation tests are conducted utilizing the serial multiple mediator model proposed by Hayes (2013). Findings Study findings indicate that intimate relationships in the professional services context are characterized by interactive communication and social bonds, and that the variables act as full mediators of the trust commitment relationship. Though trust has a positive and significant effect on commitment in isolation, this relationship becomes nonsignificant when simultaneously accounting for the effects of the two variables. Practical/implications Study findings suggest a need for programs designed to assist professional service providers in the development of intimate customer relationships. The importance of interactive communications and social bonding should be emphasized in these programs. Originality/value The study is one of the few empirical papers to investigate the role of intimacy in service relationships and the first to illustrate its mediating effects on the trust commitment relationship.