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Development, and the effects upon bargaining, of trust and suspicion Kee, Herbert William

Abstract

This study was concerned with (i) experiential factors which affect the development of trust and suspicion, and (ii) the effects of trust and suspicion upon bargaining and, negotiations. Essentially, the experiment consisted of an orthogonal 2x2x3 factorial design with one control group. Altogether, 112 male undergraduates comprised the final sample. Particular emphasis was placed upon developing an approach that could overcome some of the methodological problems that have been inherent in previous attempts to study trust and suspicion. To this end, the experiment was designed to allow (on the basis of the observation of the subjects' responses) valid inferences, about trust and suspicion. For example, subjective trust and suspicion were distinguished from manifest trust and suspicion, and were measured on the basis of responses related to a one-trial sequentially-played game. Moreover, the game involved a payoff matrix that was meaningful to the subjects insofar as it was possible for the subjects to incur real losses of their own money apparently as a result of the untrustworthy behavior of one of the other subjects. With respect to the development of trust and suspicion as a function of previous experience, it was found that: (1) previous trustworthiness engendered trust whereas previous untrustworthiness generated suspicion; (2) suspicion was established more easily than trust; however, (3) where previously the incentive to betray had been high, trust was greater especially if the other person (0) had resisted the lucrative temptation to betray. Of methodological interest was a related finding that the tendency to manifest trust or suspicion was closely related to the underlying (subjective) state of trust or suspicion. The nature of this relationship in terms of certainty and uncertainty was, however, more clear-cut for those who manifested suspicion than for those who manifested trust. While the former were certain that 0 would be untrustworthy, the latter manifested trust toward 0 even though they were uncertain as to whether 0 would be trustworthy or not. In the second part of the study, both trust and suspicion were found to be important in influencing bargaining and negotiations in a number of respects. With regard to the duration of bargaining, the trust group required less time to reach agreements than did the suspicion group. Several reasons for this finding were evident. First, subjects in the suspicion group made initial offers that were more extreme than the initial offers made by the subjects in the trust group. Secondly, subjects in the suspicion group appeared to be more concerned with the objective of modifying each other's utilities. This was reflected in the finding that the communications of the suspicion group (compared with the trust group) were characterized more by lies, threats, and ultimatums, and less by genuine and sincere attempts to exchange information; also, subjects in the suspicion group made more checks on each other and made more refusals to bargain that did the subjects in the trust group. In relation to the nature (location) of the solution, trust and suspicion appeared to have no overall effect upon whether settlements were made at equality or equity. There was, however, a prevalence of settlements at equality (regardless of whether trust or suspicion was operating). The interesting feature about this result was that the equality that was obtained in a context of suspicion was hard-earned over a prolonged period of time, whereas the equality that was agreed upon in the context of trust was relatively easily achieved. It was therefore concluded that even if the nature of the solution were not affected by suspicion, bargaining under a certain amount of trust would be preferable to bargaining under a high degree of suspicion; for under extreme suspicion, task-oriented behavior becomes easily disrupted and reduced to time-consuming conflict.

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