Our guest today is Paul Bauer, a research associate at the Mannheim Center for European Social Research (Germany). He wrote his doctoral thesis on trust in 2015, and is particularly interested in the methodological side of trust research. In some of his work, he investigates whether different people interpret surveys on trust in similar ways, using causal research designs to examine the effects of experiences such as victimization or unemployment, on trust.
Despite decades of research into trust measuring individual trust remains unsatisfying due to problematic survey questions that are used to measure social trust. There are two main methods used to measure trust, surveys and behavior observation. Surveys ask for people’s judgments about trust, while behavior observation looks at behaviors based on trust. The trust game is an example of the latter, where trust is measured by the amount of money sent from the trustor to the trustee and how both parties behave.
He suggests that non-alignment between the many surveys by organizations Like Edelmam, Pew, and major consultancies like Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG may be due to different survey questions, different time points for data collection, and different samples. The OECD guidelines on measuring trust are helpful but could be updated with more recent knowledge. He believes that even though trust is emotional and subjective, it should still be quantified, and mentions his research on audio responses to measure trust. He also points out that definitions of trust are often detached from measurements of trust and discusses his work on finding a better fit between the definition and measurement of trust. Finally, he reflects on the possibilities AI gives researchers to handle larger amounts of data in a shorter time, thus proving more in-depth research results.