Ko Kuwabara

When Trust Backfires: Trust and Trust Repair after Trust Violations

Coauthor(s): Sonja Vogt.


While much research has examined the role trust plays in building relationships, much less attention has been paid to how it affects re-building relationships. We investigated how the initial level of trust moderates trust after early versus late defections in repeated two-person Prisoner’s Dilemma games. We manipulated trust experimentally by priming high vs. low trust, measured dispositional trust pre-experimentally, and compared cross-cultural differences in trust between the United States and Japan. The results confirm our prediction: people under low initial trust conditions are more likely than under high trust conditions to tolerate (e.g., continue cooperating and express less distrust and negative affect in response to) early defections that occur as actors hedge and withhold cooperation in the beginning of relationships; however, because people seek close, secure relationships under low-trust conditions to safeguard against exploitation, they are less likely to tolerate late defections that occur once relationships are formed. Under high trust conditions, these patterns reversed.  

Source: Working Paper
Exact Citation:
Kuwabara, Ko, and Sonja Vogt. "When Trust Backfires: Trust and Trust Repair after Trust Violations." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, February 4, 2011.
Date: 4 2 2011