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Handbook of Trust Research

Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer

The Handbook of Trust Research presents a timely and comprehensive account of the most important work undertaken in this lively and emerging field over the past ten to fifteen years. Presenting a broad range of approaches to issues on trust, the Handbook features 22 articles from a variety of disciplines on the study of trust in both organizational and societal contexts. With contributions from some of the most eminent names in the field of trust research, this international collaboration is an imaginative and informative reference tool to aid research in this engaging area for years to come.
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Chapter 4: Trust as Situated Cognition: An Ecological Perspective on Trust Decisions

Roderick M. Kramer


Roderick M. Kramer To serve human action in adaptive ways, our cognitive processes are responsive to the environment in which we pursue our goals. This responsiveness ranges from higher accessibility of knowledge relevant to a given situation . . . to the choice of processing strategies that meet situational requirements. Schwarz (2002, p. 146) The benefits of trust have been amply established by many empirical studies, ranging from experimental investigations in laboratory settings (Ostrom and Walker, 2003) to explorations of trust in real-world social and organizational settings (Fukuyama, 1995; Kramer and Cook, 2004; Lane and Bachmann, 1998; Sztompka, 1999). Obtaining those benefits, however, is often more problematic (Brothers, 1995; Janoff-Bulman, 1992; Kanter and Mirvis, 1989; Seligman, 1997). One of the problems is that the anticipated gains from trust materialize only when we happen to be dealing with a trustworthy other (e.g. someone willing to reciprocate our own trusting behavior). Misplaced trust – engaging in trusting behavior with individuals who exploit that trust – can be enormously costly. Such trust mistakes are costly, moreover, not only in terms of their immediate, short-term consequences (e.g. rewards foregone and opportunities lost), but also their long-term effects (e.g. our diminished willingness to trust again). Accordingly, it makes sense for us to trust, but only when that trust is likely to be honored by others. From a judgment and decision-making perspective, therefore, among the fundamental questions we confront in our lives are such questions as ‘Whom we can trust?’ ‘How much?’ and ‘Under what...

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