"The motivated irrationality of trusting acts: Attributions, cheap talk, penance, contracts, reciprocity, and other causal forces", J. Keith Murnighan, Kellogg School of Management

Rotman School, Organizational Behaviour and HR Management Speaker Series, March 5, 2004, 10 a.m.

These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (daviding@systemicbusiness.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi).

Introduction by Mark Weber

[Keith Murnighan]

Family lived in Vancouver for 3 years.

Strong relationships, close ties between Mark, John and Jeff

Can boil down to a strong tie between Kellogg and Rotman, and weak ties all around.

First will talk to data

Data, how we got started on doing research into trust

Suggested follow-up research on this group.

What happens?

Today's title:  motivational irrationality ...

Interpersonal trust:

Ad on American television:  6-year old girl in a grass field, and a rhinoceros charging

Academic literature:

Bayes theorem is a good way to think about old rational models of trust

Osgood Graduated Reciprocal Intention Model (GRIM)

If there's a negative interaction, then it's costly to rebuild.

Kramer (Annual Review of Psych 1999) with the rational choice model as the most influential image of trust within organizational science.

First study:  Pillutla, Malholtra & Murnighan JESP, 2003:  Attributions of Trust and the Calculus of Responsibility


Found:  sending small amounts led to weak feelings of obligation.

Cultural aspects?

In post-experimental questions, people didn't much to be more to send.

Now experimenting with notes sent with money.

Early conclusions:

Second study:  Org Science 2002, Bottom, Daniels, Gibson and Murnighan, "When Talk is Not Cheap"

Emotional concessions are required by both injurer and injured.

Prisoner's dilemma, where it paid to cooperate (research with undergraduates).


New project:  "Getting Off on the Wrong Foot", "Lount, Zhong, Sivanathan, Murnighan

Malhotra and Murnighan, ASQ 2002, The Effects of Contracts on Interpersonal Trust



Initial trust between truster and the trusted party is different.


How should attributional models work?

Suppose two parties, both who would benefit:  who steps first?

Egocentrism:  may be thinking too much of own risks, not benefits for the other party.

Summary and conclusions:


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