Center for Trust Studies Research


The Center for Trust Studies supports research on trust from various disciplinary angles.

Find out more below:

Research by CTS Director Oliver Schilke suggests:

It depends. "Trust accuracy"—neither misplacing one's trust nor refrain from trusting when doing so would have been beneficial—is highly situation-dependent. People are significantly better at assessing a counterpart's trustworthiness when they had a chance to meet this person face-to-face, even if that meeting was only extremely brief. Visual clues allow us to put ourselves in our partner's perspective and assess whether or not they will be trustworthy. Phone calls, in contrast, are less helpful in this regard. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Diego Gambetta suggests:

It’s a bit complicated. Holding constant past income, current income increases trustworthiness. In contrast, holding constant current income, past income reduces trustworthiness. Another way to think about it is that trustworthiness rises when people were able to increase their wealth, but declining wealth makes people less trustworthy. Past income appears to set a a strong reference point that shapes costly pro-social behaviors, such as being trustworthy even in interactions with strangers. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Roger Mayer suggests:

Perceptions of the government's ability, benevolence and integrity. Taken together, these three factors are highly predictive of political trust, which is so central to the functioning of our democracy. But we only trust our government when we believe it is capable of doing its job, cares about people like us and adheres to an acceptable set of values. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Ed Zajac suggests: 

No, competition does not preclude cooperation. In today’s interconnected economy, it has become almost a requirement for firms to place trust and work with their competitors in order to learn from them, innovate together and become more efficient. Firms are well-advised to maintain a healthy balance between competition and cooperation in their inter-organizational relationships. Read more here.


Research by CTS Board Member Fabrice Lumineau suggests:

Not necessarily. Although the positive consequences of trust for a plethora of desirable outcomes are well-documented, they are not universal, since high levels of trust may also come with potentially detrimental side effects. High trust may lead us to become overconfident and to forget our due diligence. It may drive out objectivity and reduce our flexibility. Therefore, it is critical to consider both the upsides and the downsides of being a high trustor. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Nicole Gillespie suggests:

Not only that, you may even be able to enhance it. But this requires leaders' directed effort. Three core principles for preserving and enhancing trust during crisis include: (1) building a mental bridge to the future, (2) caring for employees emotionally and practically, and (3) empowering employees and treating them fairly. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Karen Cook suggests:

Design artificially engineered features, such as reputation systems. An experiment among 8,906 participants and a follow-up study of one million Airbnb transactions revealed that people tend to trust others who are similar, but this ‘homophily bias’ can be attenuated by implementing a reputation system. Such systems encourage trust in others who are dissimilar to oneself. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Reinhard Bachmann suggests:

Yes, at least in part. Money and trust, along with power, can serve similar purposes as symbolic communication media. But their relative importance differs across business systems. In economies characterized by market liberalism, money carries more weight, but in those characterized by coordinated market economies, trust and/or power become more important in organizing communication between business partners. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Bart de Jong suggests:

No—there tends to be significant dispersion in trust among team members. Some place great trust whereas others have little trust in the team. Does such variation matter? Quite a bit, it turns out. Teams in which trust consensus is low tend to perform worse than those in which teammates trust to a similar extent. Thus, team success not only depends on the magnitude but also the consensus of trust. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Ron Burt suggests:

It’s about 10-60 percent, at least among Chinese entrepreneurs. Meaning social structure seems to trump personal predisposition, in many cases. Small, closed networks where reputation governs social relations strongly encourage trust formation, whereas individual differences matter relatively little. Read more here.

Research by CTS Board Member Roy Lewicki and Faculty Affiliate Sarah Doyle suggests:

With deeds rather than words. Compensation and reparations are more effective than explanations and apologies. This pattern is independent of the type of trust violation. In fact, verbal accounts are not better at repairing trust than doing nothing. Read more here.

Research by CTS Faculty Affiliate Martin Reimann suggests: 

Yes, and brand betrayal can have substantial emotional ramifications. Feeling that a brand has betrayed our trust can elicit feelings of psychological loss, self-castigation over one’s prior relationship with the brand, anger, and rumination. Brand betrayal can even be detected as the neural level using functional neuroimaging. Read more here.

Research by CTS Faculty Affiliate Ben Van Landuyt suggests:

Yes, but only if there is uncertainty about possible actions that would violate trust. In other words, social bonds alone do not make individuals more trusting of others in situations where such trust might not be warranted. Akin to the idea of “giving someone the benefit of the doubt,” social bonds lead individuals to become too trusting only when uncertainty about others’ actions allows individuals to rationalize that their trust might not have been violated. Read more here.

Research by CTS Faculty Affiliates Tamar Kugler and Charles Noussair suggests:

Some do, some don’t. Recent work suggested that disgust is negatively correlated with trust, but happy or sad people do not differ in their trust propensities. Disgusted facial expressions are associated with a lack of trust, and when disgust is induced externally, people trust others less. Read more here.

Research by CTS Faculty Affiliate Laura Brandimarte suggests:

Unfortunately yes, quite easily. For both purely economic as well as psychological factors, privacy choices are often manipulated in the online world, in ways that tend to benefit the organization receiving personal data and damage the interests of users. Our research articulates the inherent problems of leaving privacy protection to the sole responsibility of users, and suggests regulation as a way forward for consumers and society as a whole to reach desired levels of privacy protection. Read more here.