TRUST: Measurement and Explanation (TRUSTME)

Research question/goal: 

How can we measure individuals’ trust? How can we explain differences in trust between individuals? Despite decades of research, empirically grounded answers to these fundamental sociological questions are surprisingly unsatisfying. First, currently used measures were mostly devised in the 1960s, are rarely derived from a clear definition, and are increasingly questioned in terms of validity and reliability. Second, current practice in explaining empirical differences in trust is to correlate trust with other variables, such as education. However, such correlations provide only limited and indirect information on why certain individuals have more trust than others.

The aim of the project TRUSTME is to contribute to interdisciplinary research on trust and to develop a new set of trust measures. Moreover, the project explores individuals’ rationales for trusting on the basis of open-ended questions and quantitative text analysis. The idea is to investigate and measure the missing link between standard explanatory factors (e.g. education) and trust judgments. In doing so, the project builds on recent technological innovations in terms of data collection, data analysis, and survey measurement.

Current stage: 

In the first year of the project, we first performed an extensive literature review to determine the current state of research. We then planned and conducted a first data collection (pre-test n=320 in April 2021; main survey n=1,500 in July 2021). We have already analysed the date and presented the results at various international conferences. We are currently preparing a first publication on how different question formats for measuring generalised and situational trust perform in terms of measurement equivalence. Another focus (with potential further publications emerging from it) in 2021 was on the adequate analysis of text as well as audio data that was collected in the survey and the comparison of different automated methods for analysing text.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
DFG
Duration: 
2018 to 2023
Status: 
ongoing
Data Sources: 
Survey Data
Geographic Space: 
Europe

Publications