Trust in Systems: Identification of 17 Unresolved Research Questions and the Highlighting of Inconsistencies

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Trust is perhaps one of the most important constructs when trying to understand human interactions with systems. As such, there has been a considerable amount of research done on factors such as individual differences in trust, environmental factors affecting trust, and even ‘contagion’ effects of trust. However, at times the literature presents results that are inconsistent with existing findings, definitions, and at times even logic, with no clear path towards reconciliation. This manuscript attempts to highlight some of these inconsistencies within individual differences (personality and gender), task and environment, and system-wide trust, while also attempting to identify outstanding questions. While this review and critique do not encompass the totality of the literature, it provides representative examples of some of the issues the study of trust is facing. For each section, we offer a series of research questions, which has resulted in 17 proposed questions that need answering. Finally, we propose 3 questions that researchers should ask in every study which may help mitigate some of these issues in the future.

Ryan Watkins