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Trust as a Multilevel Phenomenon: Implications for Improved Integrative Science in Trust Research

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Examinations of trust have advanced steadily over the past several decades, yielding important insights within criminal justice, economics, environmental studies, management and industrial organization, psychology, political science, and sociology. Cross-disciplinary approaches to the study of trust, however, have been limited

Examinations of trust have advanced steadily over the past several decades, yielding important insights within criminal justice, economics, environmental studies, management and industrial organization, psychology, political science, and sociology. Cross-disciplinary approaches to the study of trust, however, have been limited by differences in defining and measuring trust and in methodological approaches. In this chapter, we take the position that: 1) cross-disciplinary studies can be improved by recognizing trust as a multilevel phenomenon, and 2) context impacts the nature of trusting relations. We present an organizing framework for conceptualizing trust between trustees and trustors at person, group, and institution levels. The differences between these levels have theoretical implications for the study of trust and that might be used to justify distinctions in definitions and methodological approaches across settings. We highlight where the levels overlap and describe how this overlap has created confusion in the trust literature to date. Part of the overlap – and confusion – is the role of interpersonal trust at each level. We delineate when and how interpersonal trust is theoretically relevant to conceptualizing and measuring trust at each level and suggest that other trust-related constructs, such as perceived legitimacy, competence, and integrity, may be more important than interpersonal trust at some levels and in some contexts. Translating findings from trust research in one discipline to another and collaborating across disciplines may be facilitated if researchers ensure that their levels of conceptualization and measurement are aligned, and that models developed for a particular context are relevant in other, distinct contexts.

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2016

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Forensic Psychologists’ Perceptions of Bias and Potential Correction Strategies in Forensic Mental Health Evaluations.

Description

A qualitative study with 20 board-certified forensic psychologists was followed up by a mail survey of 351 forensic psychologists in this mixed-methods investigation of examiner bias awareness and strategies used to debias forensic judgments. Rich qualitative data emerged about awareness

A qualitative study with 20 board-certified forensic psychologists was followed up by a mail survey of 351 forensic psychologists in this mixed-methods investigation of examiner bias awareness and strategies used to debias forensic judgments. Rich qualitative data emerged about awareness of bias, specific biasing situations that recur in forensic evaluations, and potential debiasing strategies. The continuum of bias awareness in forensic evaluators mapped cogently onto the “stages of change” model. Evaluators perceived themselves as less vulnerable to bias than their colleagues, consistent with the phenomenon called the “bias blind spot.” Recurring situations that posed challenges for forensic clinicians included disliking or feeling sympathy for the defendant, disgust or anger toward the offense, limited cultural competency, preexisting values, colleagues’ influences, and protecting referral streams. Twenty-five debiasing strategies emerged in the qualitative study, all but one of which rated as highly useful in the quantitative survey. Some of those strategies are consistent with empirical evidence about their effectiveness, but others have been shown to be ineffective. We identified which strategies do not help, focused on promising strategies with empirical support, discussed additional promising strategies not mentioned by participants, and described new strategies generated by these participants that have not yet been subjected to empirical examination. Finally, debiasing strategies were considered with respect to future directions for research and forensic practice.

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2016-02

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You Understand, So I Understand: How A "Community of Knowledge" Shapes Trust in Expert Evidence

Description

This experiment uses the Community of Knowledge framework to better understand how jurors interpret new information (Sloman & Rabb, 2016). Participants learned of an ostensibly new scientific finding that was claimed to either be well-understood or not understood by experts.

This experiment uses the Community of Knowledge framework to better understand how jurors interpret new information (Sloman & Rabb, 2016). Participants learned of an ostensibly new scientific finding that was claimed to either be well-understood or not understood by experts. Despite including no additional information, expert understanding led participants to believe that they personally understood the phenomenon, with expert understanding acting as a cue for trustworthiness and believability. This effect was particularly pronounced with low-quality sources. These results are discussed in the context of how information is used by jurors in court, and the implications of the “Community of Knowledge” effect being used by expert witnesses.

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2018