Kinds of Third-Party Effects on Trust

  • Burt R
  • Knez M
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The simplest social context for trust is an isolated dyad--two people away from others. The more usual context is two people surrounded by various close friends, foes, and acquaintances. We argue that third-party gossip amplifies both the positive and the negative in a relationship, making ego and alter more certain of their trust (or distrust) in one another. We draw three broad conclusions from an analysis of network data on a probability sample of diverse senior managers: (a) Trust is associated with relation strength, as expected in private games; (b) as predicted by the gossip argument for public games, trust is significantly amplified by third parties (third parties have a positive effect on trust within strong relations, and a negative effect on trust within weak relations); and (c) different forms of indirect connection are responsible for the third-party effects on trust.

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  • Ronald S. Burt

  • Marc Knez

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