Title

The trust experience from the truster's perspective: A theoretical discussion and experiment

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Sciences

Keywords

Confidence, Personality disposition, Value congruency, Behavioral consistency, Experiment, Trust

Subject Categories

Business | Linguistics | Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

The recent interest in trust, and its role in organizational dynamics, has propagated several intuitively appealing theoretical propositions, many grounded to date in anecdotal evidence. For example, social psychologists often tout the importance of an individual's predisposition to trust for engendering trust in social situations. Similarly, management scholars have proposed that perceived value congruency between employee and employer, as well as consistent managerial behavior, contribute to the development of trust in the workplace. The purpose of this research is to empirically examine the effect personality predisposition to trust, perceived value congruency and behavioral consistency have on an individual's willingness to trust, specifically within a supervisor/subordinate relationship; however I believe this discussion also pertains to trust in a variety of platonic settings.

This dissertation describes the development and administration of an experimental instrument, which incorporates three existing instruments modified to address the requirements of this repeated measures experimental design. Graduate students are employed as experimental subjects, each assuming the role of a newly hired employee. The findings generated by this preliminary research indicate a positive and statistically significant relationship between a subject's predisposition to trust and the subject's initial inclination to trust a hypothetical manager. However, as the subject learns more about the manager over time, disposition's influence diminishes. Correspondingly, a positive and statistically significant relationship arises between the perceived degree of consistency in the manager's behavior over time and the amount of trust engendered in the subject. For value congruency, it appears its role in the development of trust is more ambiguous than the literature suggests, as it was not associated with the subjects' willingness to trust the manager; it appears that to simply state your beliefs is not enough to sway an individual's decision to trust. However, because an individual must espouse an attachment to, and/or possess an internalization of, some ideal or value before behavior consistent with that ideal or value can be demonstrated, this author believes value congruency does matter. Overall, these findings suggest that two of the three factors, predisposition and behavioral consistency, unquestionably play important roles in the development of employee trust in organizational settings.

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