The effects of trust in authority and procedural fairness on cooperation

David De Cremer, Tom R Tyler
Journal of Applied Psychology 2007, 92 (3): 639-49
The present research examined the effect of procedural fairness and trust in an authority on people's willingness to cooperate with the authority across a wide range of social situations. Prior research has shown that the presence of information about whether an authority can be trusted moderates the effect of procedural fairness. If no trust information is available, procedural fairness influences people's reactions. This is not the case when information about the trustworthiness of the authority is present. In the present article, it is argued that information about whether the authority can or cannot be trusted may also moderate the effect of procedural fairness in predicting levels of cooperation. Assuming that the use of fair procedures by authorities that cannot be trusted is less influential than is the enactment of procedures by trustworthy authorities, it is predicted that trust in authority moderates the influence of procedural fairness on cooperation in such a way that procedural fairness has a positive effect on cooperation primarily when trust in authority is high. Results from 4 studies (2 experimental studies and 2 field studies) provide supportive evidence for this interaction.

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