Trust has implicit meaning for every person and has different meanings in different cultures, making it difficult to measure across cultures. From an International Psychology perspective, contrary to those who suggest creating "different psychologies" for different nations, this paper builds on scientific knowledge by using tested principles and instruments and applying them with contextual sensitivity to other cultures. After examining the concept of trust in the literature, an operational definition of trust is offered. Then, cultural differences, such as individualism and collectivism, are discussed in relation to the way trust is perceived in China and the West. Results are presented of some early attempts to assess trust in China using a western instrument, which revealed certain research anomalies, particularly low reliabilities for the measure. When relevant cultural differences were taken into consideration, and minor adjustments were made in the approach to measuring trust, primarily in the instructions for the respondents to complete the questionnaire, the results showed a marked increase in the reliability values of the trust measure. Also, examples of the successful use of this approach are shown in research results with regressions that used the trust measure. It is concluded that western measures based on sound scientific research can be used successfully in China with relatively minor adjustments if researchers carefully consider the cultural context, supporting the idea that, instead of creating "different psychologies," International Psychology can be developed as a coherent branch of psychology by basing international research on existing scientific principles.
Robert J. Taormina, University of Macau, Macao
This paper is part of the ACP2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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