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Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer
Chapter 4: Trust as Situated Cognition: An Ecological Perspective on Trust Decisions
4 Trust as situated cognition: an ecological perspective on trust decisions 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...
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