Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Lessons in Trust: To study the dynamics of trust, what happens when trust is violated, and what can be done to restore it, three Wharton professions set up a money game that allowed them to measure changes in trust over time. They began the experiment, according to this article at Knowlegde@Wharton (registration required) with a widely held assumption—that trust is fragile, easily broken and hard to repair, but found the truth to be a little more complex.

Instead, the money game experiment revealed that “trust harmed by untrustworthy behavior can be effectively restored when individuals observe a consistent series of trustworthy actions,” the researchers conclude. And making a promise to change behavior can help speed up the trust recovery process.

But when a person’s trust is violated, and the violation includes deception—for instance, a friend didn’t merely forget to return a DVD as promised, but also lied about it—it is difficult to restore. “It’s okay to screw me over, but don’t deceive me as well,” says one of the researchers. “If you screw me over and lie about it, it’s going to take even longer to recover from it.”

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