To trust or not to trust: Situational and dispositional determinants

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Sharon G. Goto
Cite this article:  Goto, S. (1996). To trust or not to trust: Situational and dispositional determinants. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 24(2), 119-132.


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The effects of situational uncertainty, social distance of the target person, and the actor’s disposition, on the level of trusting behavior were investigated using a series of scenarios. The results indicate that measures of dispositional trust can predict specific trusting behaviors, and that the situational factors interact. Specifically, in situations of low uncertainty, acquaintance level targets are trusted like intimate targets. Yet, in situations of high uncertainty acquaintances are trusted merely as acquaintances. Further, trusting behaviors are more likely to occur in situations of low uncertainty, and individuals of small social distance are more likely to be trusted than those of large social distance. Implications for empirical research requiring subjects’ trust, group membership, and theories of organizational climate are discussed.


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