The Use of Information for Trust-Building and Social Exchange Transitions
A social exchange system is a fundamental form of human interaction that consists of individuals who exchange social and material resources. In any given social exchange system, individuals have access to various kinds of information about their potential exchange partners (such as personal exchange experience or third-party reputations). A long history of social exchange experiments demonstrates that different forms of exchange yield different outcomes for cooperation, trust, affect, and other factors. To a large extent, this is a function of the differences that exist in levels of risk and uncertainty inherent in various forms of exchange (i.e., reciprocal, binding, or non-binding exchange). In this talk, I will present my current and forthcoming research on how available information within an exchange network is related to 1) building trust, and 2) transitioning between forms of exchange. Given the current interest in real-world systems of B2B and Internet-based exchange (which often challenge many assumptions about exchange processes, attributions, and outcomes), the opportunities for theoretical development and real-world applications of the study of trust-building and transitions in modes of exchange are substantial.
Trust and Trust-Building. Research has consistently demonstrated that increased uncertainty in social exchange leads to an increased need for relations based on interpersonal trust. I will present current experimental research that shows how uncertainty and risk affect trust-building over repeated interactions and assessments of trustworthiness in one-shot interactions.
Exchange Transitions. Prior work in social exchange generally begins with fixed networks in which only one type of exchange can occur; in other words, the type of exchange is fixed by the experimenter for purposes of comparison. There is little or no research on the process of transitioning between different modes of social exchange. I will present a set of theoretically driven arguments for social exchange systems that transition (or shift) between reciprocal exchange and binding or non-binding negotiated exchange (which is only one of the possible types of transition in modes of exchange). These shifts can be structurally determined (i.e. the form of exchange occurs exogenously independent of the particular intentions or desires of the participants), or as agent-based transitions (i.e. in which individuals choose to move to a new mode of exchange based on their own experiences, available information, and dispositions).
In collaboration with researchers at Stanford University, we make several predictions about how agent-based transitions occur and about the attributions and exchange outcomes that result from both structurally determined and agent-based transitions in mode of exchange. I will present our proposed set of social exchange experiments that will allow us to test various hypotheses about these social exchange transitions.
Professor Cheshire explores issues of cooperation, trust-building, and social exchange in computer-mediated environments. His current research examines the role of social psychological incentives in various computer-mediated exchange situations.