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

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

The Handbook of Research Methods on Trust provides an authoritative in-depth consideration of quantitative and qualitative methods for empirical study of trust in the social sciences. As this topic has matured, a growing number of practical approaches and techniques has been utilised across the broad, multidisciplinary community of trust research, providing both insights and challenges. This unique Handbook draws together a wealth of research methods knowledge gained by trust researchers into one essential volume. The contributors examine different methodological issues and particular methods, as well as share their experiences of what works, what does not work, challenges and innovations.
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Chapter 19: Embedded Trust: The Analytical Approach in Vignettes, Laboratory Experiments and Surveys

Davide Barrera, Vincent Buskins and Werner Raub


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 prefers to place trust if the trustee honours trust, but regrets placing...

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