Uneasy lies the head that bears the trust: The effects of feeling trusted on emotional exhaustion

Michael Baer, Rashpal K. Dhensa-Kahlon, Jason A. Colquitt, Jessica B. Rodell, Ryan Outlaw, David M. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


The construct of feeling trusted reflects the perception that another party is willing to accept vulnerability to one's actions. Although this construct has received far less attention than trusting, the consensus is that believing their supervisors trust them has benefits for employees' job performance. Our study challenges that consensus by arguing that feeling trusted can be exhausting for employees. Drawing on Stevan Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory, we develop a model in which feeling trusted fills an employee with pride-a benefit for exhaustion and performance-while also increasing perceived workload and concerns about reputation maintenance-burdens for exhaustion and performance. We test our model in a field study using a sample of public transit bus drivers in London, England. Our results suggest that feeling trusted is a double-edged sword for job performance, bringing with it both benefits and burdens. Given that recommendations for managers generally encourage placing trust in employees, these results have important practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1637-1657
Number of pages21
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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