TrustTalk - It's all about Trust

The Evolution of Trust: Insights from a Pioneer

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Episode notes

Our guest today is Roger Mayer, Professor of Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at North Carolina State University. He discusses his foundational 1995 article on trust, emphasizing its role in risk-taking within professional settings and reflects on the evolution of his model, which defines trust as the willingness to make oneself vulnerable to another entity (be it a person, group, or technology) without having the ability to directly control or monitor their actions, distinguishing it from trustworthiness.

Roger Mayer responds to criticisms by underscoring the intentional simplicity and broad relevance of his trust model, which was designed with minimal variables for wide applicability, including unexpected fields like AI and robotics. He acknowledges the trade-offs of this approach but values the model's capacity to spark debate and advance scientific discourse

He also previews his upcoming book, "A Research Agenda for Trust: Interdisciplinary Perspectives," aiming to facilitate interdisciplinary research in trust. Additionally, he explores trust in autonomous technology, distinguishing between trust in the technology itself and its creators. He revisits his 1995 trust model in the context of government trust, introducing a new measure assessing vulnerability.

Mayer explores the often-overlooked dimension of police officers' trust in the public, underscoring the importance of bidirectional trust. He unveils that officers are inclined to engage more openly and take proactive measures when they sense a higher degree of trust from the public. This viewpoint pivots the conventional emphasis from how much the public trusts the police to a more reciprocal understanding of trust, where the perceptions of law enforcement about public trust play a crucial role.

He also addresses the challenges faced by university research, critiquing the excessive focus on production over impactful, meaningful research. He advocates for a balance between theoretical exploration and practical application, urging researchers to ensure their work contributes tangibly to society. This approach, he suggests, is essential for bridging the gap between academic research and real-world societal benefits, particularly in the field of trust.