All in Due Time

The Development of Trust in Computer-Mediated and Face-To-Face Teams

Published in: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 99, no. 1, Jan. 2006, p. 16-33

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Jeanne M. Wilson, Susan G. Straus, Bill McEvily

This study examines the development of trust and cooperation in computer-mediated and face-to-face teams. Fifty-two, three-person teams worked on a mixed-motive task over a 3-week period using computer-mediated or face-to-face interaction. Results showed that trust started lower in computer-mediated teams but increased to levels comparable to those in face-to-face teams over time. Furthermore, this pattern of results also held for teams that switched from face-to-face to electronic media and vice versa. Content analysis showed that high levels of inflammatory remarks were associated with slow trust development in computer-mediated teams. The results challenge prevailing assumptions about how trust develops in distributed teams and suggest modifications to established theories of computer-mediated communication.

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