A Test of an Interpersonal Trust Model

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Howard Anderson

Advisor Department



A total of 222 employees were studied to evaluate the first part of an interpersonal trust model as proposed by Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995). These three researchers defined ability, integrity, and benevolence as the most significant characteristics for the trustee and propensity to trust for the trustor. If a trusting relationship could be explained by these four factors, benevolence, ability, integrity, and propensity to trust, then this model is parsimonious as they claimed. In this study, participants confirmed all of the proposed positive relationships between trust and propensity to trust, integrity, ability, and benevolence. All of the hypotheses were confirmed. Integrity was showed to have the highest correlation with trust, and to account for the most variance in trust, followed by ability and benevolence. However, integrity, ability, and benevolence were not independent of each other; they were highly intercorrelated. All together the trustee's characteristics, benevolence, ability, and integrity accounted for 76.8% of the variance of trust. Noticeably, propensity to trust even though it had a strong positive relationship with trust, did not make a significant independent contribution to trust. In conclusion, rather than the trustor's personality trait in trusting people generally, the trustee's characteristics of benevolence, ability, and integrity determine the trusting relationship. In perspective, the researcher suggested that for future relevant studies, propensity to trust should be specified in a manner that it can indicate environmental and social expectations.