Publication Type

PhD Dissertation

Publication Date



In this dissertation, I strived to understand the role of individuals’ affect in the development processes of interpersonal trust within organizations. To achieve the goal, I conducted two studies, one conceptual framework and one empirical investigation. Trust scholars have long recognized the affective component of trust experience. However, previous theoretical arguments and empirical findings are not well integrated to provide a cohesive understanding on various dynamic roles that emotions and moods can play in the trust development. Recognizing that the trustor and trustee may face diverse relational problems at various stages of their trust relationship, I first suggested a Phase Model based on well-recognized trust development models. In the phase model, a trust development process encompasses pre-encounter, first impression, trust interaction, trust maintenance, and trust disruption/deterioration phases. I also recognized that individuals’ affect may impact trust development through multiple ways based on two perspectives on the roles of affect: The Affect Cognitive perspective and the Social Functional perspective. I delineated various mechanisms that emotions and moods can play in each phase and whether the mechanism is based on the Affect Cognitive perspective or the Social Functional perspective. In addition, I suggested that the trust development can go back from a latter phase to an earlier phase and that various affective mechanisms can phase in, out, and back in again as relationships are initiated, develop, and perhaps are even disrupted and restored. As a result, the conceptual framework could help guide future research on affect and trust development. After delineating the conceptual paper, I conducted an empirical investigation on how newcomers develop trust in their supervisors. The literature on leader behaviors and employee trust in leader has suggested that interactional justice could promote employee trust through impacting the social exchange processes between employees and their leaders. Integrating the Social Exchange theory and findings from affect literature, I investigated how supervisor interactional justice and newcomer agreeableness impact the development of newcomer trust in supervisor through influencing newcomer anxiety level and anxiety reduction. Findings of an experience sampling study suggested that high supervisor interactional justice could lead to high levels of newcomer trust through low levels of newcomer anxiety. Newcomer anxiety reduction (i.e., negative change over the encounter period of two weeks) could promote newcomer trust improvement (i.e., positive change over the encounter period), which in turn impacted the final levels of newcomer trust in supervisor at the end of encounter stage. In addition, supervisor interactional justice and newcomer agreeableness interacted to impact newcomer anxiety reduction. For low agreeable individuals, higher supervisor interactional justice led to more newcomer anxiety reduction in the encounter stage. Taken together, the empirical study offers insights into the process of interpersonal trust development starting from the first day at work, and uncovers the role of affective mechanisms underlying initial trust development.


interpersonal trust, emotions, moods, trust development, experience sampling method, trust building

Degree Awarded

PhD in Business (OBHR)


Organizational Behavior and Theory | Organization Development


FERRIN, Donald Lee


Singapore Management University


Singapore Management University

City or Country


Copyright Owner and License


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, October 22, 2020