#competence #psychology #sociology
This article examines the relationship between the two fundamental attributes of the trustee: character and competence. Although the trust research predominantly adopts an additive perspective, our research emphasizes a moderation (i.e., multiplicative) relationship and the significance of their interaction. We find that competence is an important but not always reliable predictor of trust. First, the positive effect of competence is conditional on the trustee’s high character. Second, higher competence can have a lower marginal effect as character decreases. Furthermore, situational assurance weakens the effect of character on competence, which explains the additive joint effect found in previous research. Our modified trust game also makes a methodological contribution by examining the interaction between the various personal and situational sources of trust (as compared with the lone operationalization of character in the classic trust game). We discuss the shortcomings of the additive perspective and the implications of our method and findings.