I get by with a little help from my friends: the influence of coworker trust on employee level outcomes

Open Access
Deckert, Paige Janelle
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 13, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Rick R Jacobs, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Committee Chair
  • James Marshall Lebreton, Committee Member
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Committee Member
  • Lance Ferris, Outside Member
  • trust
  • coworker trust
  • supervisor trust
  • attachment style
  • hostile attribution bias
  • job satisfaction
  • organizational citizenship behavior
  • social support
Although the topic of trust has received attention across a variety of disciplines, it has been somewhat narrow in its focus on hierarchical relationships between the individual and their supervisor, or the degree of trust employees have in the upper management of the organization. This study expands the trust literature by examining what dispositional characteristics predict coworker and supervisor trust, and how coworker and supervisor trust influence employee level outcomes. It also expands our understanding of coworker trust by differentiating between targets: trust in coworkers overall, least trusted coworker, and most trusted coworker. Results from the study indicate that the tendency to attribute ambiguous behavior to a hostile intention does predict trust in others, and propensity to trust others was only moderately related to trust in the workplace; displaying anxious or avoidant attachment was a significant predictor of coworker trust across all three measurement methods. Avoidant attachment is the only variable that was a significant predictor of supervisor trust. This shows some indication that parts of our personality may differentially predict how we trust people in different roles. Looking at the employee level outcomes, there were mixed results. While coworker trust significantly predicted perceived social support, supervisor trust does not. Further, perceived social support was not related to stress. Individuals who trust their coworkers or supervisor were more likely to perform organizational citizenship behaviors and experience higher job satisfaction. Neither coworker nor supervisor trust predict employee stress, though this is likely due to a mismatch in specificity of scales. Research and practical implications are discussed.