Handbook of Research Methods on Trust
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Handbook of Research Methods on Trust

Second Edition

Edited by Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders

With the growing interest in trust in the social sciences, this second edition of the Handbook of Research Methods on Trust provides a fully updated and extended account of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods for empirical research. While many researchers have already drawn inspiration and insight from the previous edition, the dynamic development of trust research calls for further and deeper engagement with methodological issues, particular methods, practical research experience, and current challenges and innovations as offered by this new edition.
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Chapter 16: Deepening the understanding of trust: combining repertory grid and narrative to explore the uniqueness of trust

Melanie J. Ashleigh and Edgar Meyer


The intangibility of trust continues to provide interest and debate for researchers attempting to measure this multidimensional construct. This chapter discusses two inductive but integrative methods of capturing the complexity of trust measurement though an interpretive lens. Historically, much of the research on trust has been viewed through a positivist lens, where scholars have been consumed with attempting to extract rational functionality from this complex and intangible concept. For example, the contentious issue of definition is still being debated several decades after Deutsch’s (1958) first ideas that trust consisted of ‘confident expectation’ in others based on ‘co-operative interdependence’ that would lead to favourable expectations. Nearly half a century later trust is still being researched as a commodity one can use or analyse to extract a favourable outcome from. It has been subjected to various categorisation analyses, for example, cognitive-based or affective-based trust (McAllister, 1995) and calculus-based, knowledge-based and identification-based trust (Lewicki and Bunker, 1996). More recently scholars have called ‘the functionality’ of trust into question and are promoting a move towards ‘hermeneutic frameworks and methods’ (Möllering, 2001: 404)). The aim of this chapter is to encourage trust researchers to adopt more integrative and inductive approaches when measuring trust. This was achieved by using some parts of two inductive theories – repertory grid and narrative. These two methods both emanate from a research paradigm that promotes the grounding of findings in the situated nature of the research context.

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