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 23: Measuring the decision to trust using metric conjoint analysis

Richard L. Priem and Antoinette A. Weibel


Conjoint analysis is a quantitative technique for capturing the utilities, preferences, understandings, perceptions, beliefs, or judgments of decision-makers (Arkes and Hammond, 1986), and ultimately for identifying the relative contributions of attributes and their levels to decision-makers’ actions (Hair et al., 1987). Its name is derived from the two words ‘considered’ and ‘jointly’ (McCullough, 2002), which together capture its fundamental use characteristic – an individual making a decision (for example, addressing a trust situation) based on multiple attributes that must be considered together. Because conjoint analysis examines the decision-making process by asking trustors actually to make decisions, rather than by relying on the theories or processes trustors say they use in retrospective accounts, it provides trust researchers with the ability to capture the ‘theories-in-use’ (Argyris and Schön, 1974) of trustors, instead of their ‘espoused theories’. These ‘theories-in-use’ represent the underlying cognitive processes that drive a trustor’s decision to accept vulnerability in particular trust situations. Despite the potential of conjoint analysis for examining trustors’ decision processes, the technique has seen sparse use in trust research. In the sections that follow, we first discuss why conjoint analysis – a quantitative technique for studying decision making – might be useful for trust researchers.

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