Trust and commitment in the United States and Japan

Abstract

A distinction is proposed betweentrust as a cognitive bias in the evaluation of incomplete information about the (potential) interaction partner andassurance as a perception of the incentive structure that leads the interaction partner to act cooperatively. It is hypothesized that trust in this sense helps people to move out of mutually committed relations where the partner's cooperation is assured. Although commitment formation is a rather standard solution to the problems caused by social uncertainty, commitment becomes a liability rather than an asset as opportunity costs increase. Facing increasing opportunity costs, trust provides a springboard in the attempt to break psychological inertia that has been mobilized to maintain committed relations. In conjunction with an assumption that networks of mutually committed relations play a more prominent role in Japanese society than in American society, this hypothesis has been applied to predict a set of cross-national differences between the United States and Japan in the levels of trust and related factors. The results of a cross-national questionnaire survey (with 1,136 Japanese and 501 American respondents) support most of the predictions, and indicate that, in comparison to Japanese respondents, American respondents are more trusting of other people in general, consider reputation more important, and consider themselves more honest and fair. In contrast, Japanese respondents see more utility in dealing with others through personal relations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Abegglen, J. C. (1958).The Japanese factory: Aspects of its social organization. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Akerlof, G. (1970). The market for “lemons”: Qualitative uncertainty and the market mechanism.Quarterly Journal of Economics, 84, 488–500.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Asanuma, B. (1989). Manufacturer-supplier relationships in Japan and the concept of relation-specific skill.Journal of the Japanese and International Economics, 3, 1–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Axelrod, R. (1984).The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Barber, B. (1983).The logic and limit of trust. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bhide, A., & Stevenson, H. (1990). Why be honest if honesty doesn't pay.Harvard Business Review (September–October) pp. 121–129.

  7. Bhide, A., & Stevenson, H. (1992). Trust, uncertainty, and profit.The Journal of Socio-Economics, 21, 191–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Brandach, J. L., & Eccles, R. G. (1989). Price, authority, and trust: From ideal types to plural forms.Annual Review of Sociology, 15, 97–118;

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Clark, R. (1979).The Japanese company. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cole, R. E. (1972). Permanent employment in Japan: Facts and fantasies.Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 26, 615–630.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Coleman, J. S. (1990).Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Cusmano, M., & Takeishi, A. (1991). Supplier relations and management: A survey of Japanese, Japanese-transplant, and U.S. auto plants.Strategic Management Journal, 12, 563–588.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Dasgupta, P. (1988). Trust as a commodity. In D. Gambetta (Ed.),Trust: Making and breaking cooperative relations (pp. 49–72). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Dawes, R. M., McTavish, J., & Shaklee, H. (1977). Behavior, communication and assumptions about other people's behavior in a commons dilemma situation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dawes, R., Orbell, J., Simmons, R., & van de Kragt, A. (1986). Organizing groups for collective action.American Political Science Review, 80, 1171–1185.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Deutsch, M. F. (1983).Doing business with the Japanese. New York: New American Library.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dore, R. (1983). Goodwill and the spirit of market capitalism.British Journal of Sociology, 34, 459–482.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Dyer, J. (1993).The Japanese vertical keiretsu. How they give Japanese companies a competitive advantage. Paper presented at the Network Conference, September 10–12, Whistler, BC.

  19. Frank, R. H. (1988).Passions within reason: The strategic role of the emotions. New York: W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Gellner, E. (1988). Trust, cohesion, and the social order. In D. Gambetta (Ed.),Trust: Making and breaking cooperative relations (pp. 214–237). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Gerlach, M. (1987). Business alliances and the strategy of the Japanese firm.California Management Review, 30, 126–142.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Hardin, R. (1991). Trusting persons, trusting institutions. In R. J. Zeckhauser (Ed.),Strategy and choice (pp. 185–209). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Hardin, R. (1992). The street-level epistemology of trust.Politics and Society, 21, 505–529.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hawthorn, G. (1988). Three ironies in trust. In D. Gambetta (Ed.),Trust: Making and breaking cooperative relations (pp. 111–126). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Hayashi, C., Suzuki, T., Suzuki, G., & Murakami, M. (1982).A study of Japanese national character (Vol. 4). Tokyo: Idemitsushoten. (In Japanese with an English summary)

    Google Scholar 

  26. Hayashi, N., Jin, N., & Yamagishi, T. (1993). Prisoners dilemma networks: A computer-simulation of strategies.Research in Social Psychology, 8, 33–43. (In Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hayashi, N., Takahashi, N., Watabe, M., & Yamagishi, T. (1994).An experimental study of commitment formation and trust. Paper presented at the XIIIth World Congress of Sociology, Bielefeld, Germany.

  28. Helper, S., & Levine, D. (1992). Long-term supplier relations and product-market structure.Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 8, 561–581.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hofstede, G. (1980).Culture's consequences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Holzner, B. (1973). Sociological reflections on trust.Humanitas, 9, 333–47.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Jin, N., Hayashi, N., & Shinotsuka, H. (1993). An experimental study of prisoner's dilemma network: The formation of commitment in selective dyads.Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 21–30. (In Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  32. Kaplan, R. M. (1973). Components of trust: Note on use of Rotter's scale.Psychological Report, 33, 13–14.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Kelley, H. H., & Stahelski, A. J. (1970). The social interaction basis of cooperators' and competitors' beliefs about others.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 66–91.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Kollock, P. (1993). “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”: Cooperation and accounting systems.American Sociological Review, 58, 768–786.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Kollock, P. (in press). The emergence of exchange structures: An experimental study of uncertainty, commitment, and trust.American Journal of Sociology.

  36. Komorita, S. S., Hilty, J. A., & Parks, C. D. (1991). Reciprocity and cooperation in social dilemmas.Journal of Conflict Resolution, 35, 494–518.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Lewis, J. D., & Weigert, A. (1985). Trust as a social reality.Social Forces, 63, 967–985.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Lincoln, J. R., & Kallenberg, A. L. (1985). Work organization and workforce commitment: A study of plants and employees in the U.S. and Japan.American Sociological Review, 50, 738–760.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Luhmann, N. (1979).Trust and power. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Luhmann, N. (1988). Familiarity, confidence, trust: Problems and alternatives. In D. Gambetta (Ed.),Trust: Making and breaking cooperative relations (pp. 94–107). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation.Psychological Review, 98, 224–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Marsh, R. M., & Mannari, H. (1976).Modernization and the Japanese factory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Marwell, G., & Ames, R. E. (1979). Experiments on the provision of public goods, I: Resources, interest, group size, and the free-rider problem.American Journal of Sociology, 84, 1335–1360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Messick, D. M., Wilke, H., Brewer, M. B., Kramer, R. M., Zemke, P. E., & Lui, L. (1983). Individual adaptations and structural change as solutions to social dilemmas.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 293–309.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Miwa, Y. (1990).Firms and industrial organization in Japan. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. (In Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  46. Orbell, J. M., & Dawes, R. M. (1991). A “cognitive miser” theory of cooperators' advantage.American Political Science Review, 85, 515–528.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Orbell, J. M., & Dawes, R. M. (1993). Social welfare, cooperators' advantage, and the option of not playing the game.American Sociological Review, 58, 787–800.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Oskamp, S. (1971). Effects of programmed strategies on cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma and other mixed motive games.Journal of Conflict Resolution, 15, 225–229.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Ouchi, W. G. (1981).Theory Z: How American business can meet the Japanese challenge. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Rempel, J. K., & Holmes, J. G. (1986, February). How do I trust thee?Psychology Today, pp. 28–34.

  51. Rosenberg, M. (1957).Occupations and values. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Rotter, J. B. (1967). A new scale for the measurement of interpersonal trust.Journal of Personality, 35, 651–665.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Sako, M. (1991). The role of “trust” in Japanese buyer-supplier relationships.Ricerche Economiche, 45, 449–474.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Sako, M. (1992).Prices, quality and trust: Inter-firm relations in Britain and Japan. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Sato, K., & Yamagishi, T. (1986). Psychological factors in the public goods problem: Free-riding and the lack of trust.Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 89–95. (In Japanese)

    Google Scholar 

  56. Shapiro, D. L., Sheppard, B. H., & Cheraskin, L. (1992). Business on a handshake.Negotiation Journal, 8, 365–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Sullivan, J., & Peterson, R. B. (1982). Factors associated with trust in Japanese-American joint ventures.Management International Review, 22, 30–40.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Sullivan, J., Peterson, R. B., Kameda, N., & Shimada, J. (1981). The relationship between conflict resolution approaches and trust: A cross cultural study.Academy of Management Journal, 24, 803–815.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959).The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Triandis, H. C. (1989). Self and social behavior in differing cultural contexts.Psychological Review, 96, 269–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Triandis, H. C. (1990). Cross-cultural studies of individualism and collectivism. In J. Berman (Ed.),Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1989 (pp. 41–133). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Triandis, H. C. (1994).Culture and social behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Tyszka, T., & Grzelak, J. (1976). Criteria of choice in non-constant zero-sum games.Journal of Conflict Resolution, 20, 357–376.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Vaughan, F. T. (1971). Joint ventures in Japan.Bulletin No. 30. Tokyo: Sohia University Socio-Economic Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Wada, K. (1991). The development of tiered inter-firm relationships in the automobile industry: A case study of Toyota Motor Corporation.Japanese Yearbook on Business History, 8, 23–47.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Watabe, M., Hayashi, N., Jin, N., Takahashi, N., Yamagishi, T., & Yamagishi, M. (1993). Particularistic trust and generalized trust: A questionnaire survey.Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meetings of the Japanese Group Dynamics Association (pp. 126–127). (In Japanese)

  67. Williamson, O. E. (1975).Market and hierarchies: Analysis and antitrust implications. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Williamson, O. E. (1985).The economic institutions of capitalism. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Wilson, W. (1971). Reciprocation and other techniques for inducing cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma game.Journal of Conflict Resolution, 15, 167–195.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Wrightsman, L. S. (1974).Assumptions about human nature: A social-psychological analysis. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Yamagishi, M., & Yamagishi, T. (1989).Trust, commitment, and the development of network structures. Paper presented at the Workshop for the Beyond Bureaucracy Research Project, December 18–21, Hong Kong.

  72. Yamagishi, T. (1986). The provision of a sanctioning system as a public good.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 110–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Yamagishi, T. (1988a). The provision of a sanctioning system in the United States and Japan.Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 265–271.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Yamagishi, T. (1988b). Seriousness of social dilemmas and the provision of a sanctioning system.Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 32–42.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Yamagishi, T., & Cook, K. S. (1993). Generalized exchange and social dilemmas.Social Psychology Quarterly, 56, 235–248.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Yamagishi, T., Hayashi, N., & Jin, N. (1994). Prisoner's dilemma networks: Selection strategy versus action strategy. In U. Schulz, W. Albers, & U. Mueller (Eds.),Social dilemmas and cooperation (pp. 233–250). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Yamagishi, T., & Sato, K. (1986). Motivational bases of the public goods problem.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 67–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Yamagishi, T., & Yamagishi, M. (1993).Trust and commitment as alternative responses to social uncertainty. Paper presented at the Network Conference, September 10–12, Whistler, British Columbia.

  79. Yamagishi, T., Yamagishi, M., Hayashi, N., Takahashi, N., & Watabe, M. (in press). Trust and commitment: An experimental study.Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (In Japanese)

  80. Zucker, L. (1986). Production of trust: Institutional sources of economic structure, 1840–1920.Research in Organizational Behavior, 8, 53–111.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

The research reported in this paper has been supported by the Institute of Nuclear Safety System, Inc. We would like to thank Professor Jyuji Misumi, the director of the Social System Research Department of the institute, and Mr. Akira Yamada, the associate director of the department, for their constant encouragement and support. We would also like to thank past attendants of the “trust workshops,” also supported by the institute, Professors Karen Cook, Peter Kollock, Mary Brinton, Tatsuya Kameda, Taro Kamioka, Ichiro Numazaki, Motoki Watabe, Kumiko Mori, Nahoko Hayashi, Nobuhito Jin, and Nobuyuki Takahashi. This research has been supported also by Abe Fellowship and a Ministry of Education Scientific Research Grant provided to Toshio Yamagishi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yamagishi, T., Yamagishi, M. Trust and commitment in the United States and Japan. Motiv Emot 18, 129–166 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02249397

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Opportunity Cost
  • Questionnaire Survey
  • Japanese Society
  • Related Factor