Baer, Michael D.; Fadel K. Matta, Ji Koung Kim, David T. Welsh, Niharika Garud
Personnel Psychology
Scholars agree that trust primarily has two bases: trustworthiness—the extent to which a trustee is competent, honest, and has goodwill toward the trustor—and trust propensity—a stable trait reflecting the trustor’s generalized belief that others can be trusted. Due to this trait characterization, the literature has largely reached a consensus that trust propensity is only an important base of trust in the earliest stage of a relationship—before information on trustworthiness has been gathered. The trait conceptualization of trust propensity also inhibits it from being modeled as an explanatory mechanism. Drawing on accessibility theory, a theory of trait activation, we argue that trust propensity has state‐like characteristics which are “activated” by the daily treatment an employee receives from coworkers. Our model highlights that the social context—predominantly ignored in prior trust research because of its lack of relevance to dyadic perceptions of trustworthiness—can have a substantial impact on dyadic trust.