Motivated to “Roll the Dice” on Trust: The Relationships Between Employees’ Daily Motives, Risk Propensity, and Trust

Michael D. Baer, Hudson Sessions, David T. Welsh, Fadel K. Matta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Models of trust have focused on the notion that an employee’s trust in a coworker is based on that coworker’s trustworthiness and the employee’s trust propensity—a generalized tendency to believe others are trustworthy. Although these models capture the general assessment of risk associated with trusting a particular coworker, they provide insufficient insight into why an employee might take the risk associated with trust on a particular day. Bringing the concept of risk propensity—the tendency to accept or avoid risk—from the decision-making literature into the trust literature, we build a model of trust that suggests employees’ trusting behaviors stem from both their calculated assessment of risk (encapsulated in trustworthiness and trust propensity) and their tendency to take those risks. We draw on motivated reasoning theory (Kunda, 1990) and the decision-making literature to suggest that employees’ daily strivings for achievement, affiliation, stimulation, and security induce a biased reasoning process that influences employees’ risk propensity that day. Our test of this theoretical model demonstrates that generalized work motives have an indirect effect on employees’ trust in their coworkers, through risk propensity, that goes above and beyond established bases of trust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1561-1578
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2022


  • Motivated reasoning
  • Motives
  • Risk propensity
  • Trust
  • Trustworthiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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