Testing a model of the development of trust in situations of conflicting interests
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The purpose of this study was to test a theoretical model that explains how interpersonal trust develops from interactions in personal relationships. The sample consisted of 311 individuals who were randomly recruited with their dating partners for a longitudinal study on dating relationships. Using interdependence theory as a framework, I tested a model of how trust develops from behaviors and attributions in handling situations of conflicting needs, wants, and desires. This model also examined both the direct and indirect effects of two background characteristics, adult attachment style and parental divorce, on beliefs of trust. The model explored whether attributions partially mediated the direct relationship between the background characteristics and trust. Lastly, multiple group analyses explored whether gender and two developmental factors, stage of relationship involvement and developmental change in relationship involvement, moderated the simultaneous relationships among the predictor variables and trust. The analyses testing my model of the development of trust examined two separate outcomes: trust in partners' benevolence and trust in partners' honesty. The results from the path analyses revealed that the data fit the model for trust in partners' benevolence well enough for the importance of the predictors to be interpreted, but did not fit the model for trust in partners' honesty. The findings showed that in the overall model of trust in partners' benevolence, partners' voice and individuals' attributions were significant predictors of trust. The findings for the multiple group comparisons further revealed that the model was not significantly modified by stage of relationship involvement, developmental change in relationship involvement, or gender. A few marginal findings, however, suggest areas for future research.