Psychology of Trust This Research Term Paper

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" (2003) in other words this is a trust based on possible rewards or possible punishment, or gains vs. losses. Over a period of time when the relationship is further tested trust evolves to 'identification-based trust which is stated to be the "highest level" of trust in that "the parties have internalized each other's desires and intentions. They understand what the other party cares about so completely that each party is able to act as an agent for the other." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) at this stage of trust Lewicki and Tomlinson state that "a strong emotional bond between the parties" (2003) has been formed.

Violations of trust occur when the individual holding "confident positive expectations of the trustee are disconfirmed." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) the result is lower trust because research has shown that violation of trust result in a stifling of "mutual support and information sharing" (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) and in organizations "exert negative effects on organizational citizenship behaviors, job performance turnovers and profits." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) Violation of trust generally results in the individual who has extended trust: (1) making a cognitive appraisal of the situation; and 2) experiencing a distressed emotional state." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) single isolated violation of trust may cause serious damage and even destroy trust so badly that it cannot be repaired however, "a pattern of violations may be needed to create serious damage to the relationships. Lewicki and Tomlinson relate that the severity of the offense may be along a continuum "from low to high" (2003) and may be considered severe on the following bases:

Magnitude of the Offense: indication of the seriousness of the consequences incurred by the victim.

Number of Prior Violations - when a clear patterns of trust violations exists, even if they are all of a minor nature when viewed in isolation, the overall pattern of trust violation may be considered a serious breach

Specific Dimensions of Trust: violations that are related to integrity and benevolence are experienced most often as being more severe and damaging that violations that are based on ability. (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003; paraphrased)

Rebuilding trust has been held by many to be impossible however Lewicki and Tomlinson draw upon "recent research indicating a more optimistic view..." (2003) However, the caution is stated by Lewicki and Tomlinson that "rebuilding rust is not as straightforward as building trust in the first place. After trust has been damaged there are two key considerations for the victim: (1) dealing with the stress the violation imposed on the relationship; and 2) determining if future violations will occur." (2003)

The primary question at this point is stated by Lewicki and Tomlinson to be: "Is the victim willing to reconcile?" (2003) Reconciliation is active effort between both parties to restore a relationship that has been damaged and to "strive to settle the issues that led to the disruption of that relationships. Reconciliation is a behavioral manifestation of forgiveness, defined as a deliberate decision by the victim to surrender feelings of resentment and grant amnesty to the offender." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) the following diagram illustrates the possible actions that may occur depending upon the victim's willingness to reconcile the relationship, or not to reconcile.

Possible Actions of Victim Whose Trust is Violated

Source: Lewicki and Tomlinson (2003)

In order for trust to be rebuilt in a relationship the individual who is referred to as the "offender" because of the violation of trust must take an active role in facilitation of the reconciliation and this is most likely to occur when the offender holds a real desire to rebuild trust and "is skilled at perspective taking" or the ability to "visualize the world as it appears to someone else." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) in the 'identification based' relationships the violations take on a much more meaningful seriousness and if the offender is to "re-establish perceptions of his/her benevolent intent, the offender should quickly and voluntarily offer a thorough and sincere apology which conveys remorse for harm inflicted, an explanation of the details surrounding the betrayal, and a promise for future cooperation." (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003) Practical implications for building trust include first and foremost de-escalation of the conflict. Calculus-based Trust (CBT) relationships require the following:

1) Perform competently;

2) Establish consistency and predictability;

3) communicate accurately, openly and transparently;

4) share and delegate control; and 5) show concern for others. (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003)

Identification-Based Trust (IBT) as stated earlier is inclusive of a strong emotional bond between two individuals requires the following in rebuilding trust:

1) establish a common name and identity or speak of 'we' rather than 'me';

2) Capitalize on co-location, or strengthen the common identity through reduction of distrust "by exposing false stereotypes and prejudices.";

3) Create joint products and goals; and 4) Promote share values and emotional attraction through active listening, recognizing the contributions of the other and demonstrating confidence in the other's abilities. (Lewicki and Tomlinson, 2003; paraphrased)


Trust has been shown to be a developmental issue, which occurs during many stages of the individual's life beginning at birth and developing perhaps throughout the entire lifespan of the individual. Trust begins with maternal and paternal caretaking of the child and the appropriate responses and grows as the child develops into a school-age child and into adolescence. It is not until the individual is approximately twenty years of age that the type of trust that is required for appropriate intimate bonding is developed and should one fail to develop appropriately on one level the individual is unable to step up to the next level until appropriate development has occurred. There are two types of trust identified in this study and specifically the two of calculus-based trust (CBT) and identification-based trust (IBT). Once trust has been violated in the IBT relationship, reparation of the damage caused by the violation is rare however, it is not impossible if the victim is willing and if the violator is sincere. Trust, much like love is something, which is, while intangible, crucially important in relationships with any depth and commitment.


Stages of Social-Emotional Development in Children and Teenagers (2007) Child Development Institute. Online available at

Rousseau, D.M., Sitkin, S.B., Burt, R.S., and Camerer, C. (1998). "Not so Different After All: A Cross-Discipline View of Trust," in Academy of Management Review, 23, 393-404. In Lewicki, Roy J. And Tomlinson, Edward C. (2003) Trust and…

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