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Chapter 19: Embedded Trust: The Analytical Approach in Vignettes, Laboratory Experiments and Surveys
19 Embedded trust: the analytical approach in vignettes, laboratory experiments and surveys Davide Barrera, Vincent Buskens and Werner Raub INTRODUCTION In recent years, research programs on trust have been extremely numerous and diverse in terms of both theoretical and methodological approaches as well as empirical applications. In this chapter, we focus on one research stream, which we refer to as the ‘analytical approach’ (Hedström, 2005; Hedström and Bearman, 2009) and discuss complementary empirical strategies consistent with this approach. In the framework of analytical sociology, what qualifies a sociological explanation is a focus on collective phenomena that result, often as unintended consequences, from the actions and interactions of individual actors who constitute the elementary units of the social system in which the collective phenomenon emerges. The analytical approach implies that trust is not studied as a property of social systems, but as the result of individual decisions made by interdependent actors. For example, most economic transactions imply a trust problem between sellers and buyers. Online transactions are an illustration: when purchasing online, the buyer has to trust that the seller will ship the good. A definition of trust which captures this interdependence has been proposed by Coleman (1990: ch. 5). Coleman characterizes a trust problem as a strategic interaction between two actors – a trustor and a trustee – and having four properties: 1. The trustor has the possibility of placing some resources at the disposal of the trustee, who has the possibility of either honouring or abusing trust. The trustor...
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