Worthy of swift trust? How brief interpersonal contact affects trust accuracy

Oliver Schilke, Laura Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Organizational scholars have long underscored the positive consequences of trust, yet trust can also have dysfunctional effects if it is not placed wisely. Though much research has examined conditions that increase individuals' tendencies to trust others, we know very little about the circumstances under which individuals are likely to make more accurate trust decisions (i.e., neither misplace their trust nor refrain from trusting when doing so would have been beneficial), especially when they must do so rapidly and in the absence of an exchange history. Put simply, we have little understanding of what drives the accuracy of swift trust judgments. Building on relevant literatures, we propose that short episodes of prior interpersonal contact with a partner can increase the accuracy of swift trust decisions. Across two experimental studies, we demonstrate that brief interpersonal contact leads trustors to both (a) become more accurate in their trust decisions; and (b) engage in other-focused perspective taking, which mediates the effect of interpersonal contact on trust accuracy. We then show that it is specifically because of verbal cues, rather than visual cues, that brief interpersonal contact enables other-focused perspective taking, and in turn, trust accuracy (Study 3). We contribute to the literature on trust by examining trust accuracy (rather than mere trust levels), identifying the significant role of brief interpersonal contact, and revealing other-focused perspective taking as a key mechanism in accurate swift trust decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1181-1197
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Interpersonal contact
  • Perspective taking
  • Social dilemmas
  • Swift trust
  • Trustworthiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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