The dimensionality of trust-relevant constructs in four institutional domains: Results from confirmatory factor analyses

Lisa M. Pytlikzillig, Joseph A. Hamm, Ellie Shockley, Mitchel N. Herian, Tess M.S. Neal, Christopher D. Kimbrough, Alan J. Tomkins, Brian H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Using confirmatory factor analyses and multiple indicators per construct, we examined a number of theoretically derived factor structures pertaining to numerous trust-relevant constructs (from 9 to 12) across four institutional contexts (police, local governance, natural resources, state governance) and multiple participant-types (college students via an online survey, community residents as part of a city’s budget engagement activity, a random sample of rural landowners, and a national sample of adult Americans via an Amazon Mechanical Turk study). Across studies, a number of common findings emerged. First, the best fitting models in each study maintained separate factors for each trust-relevant construct. Furthermore, post hoc analyses involving addition of higher-order factors tended to fit better than collapsing of factors. Second, dispositional trust was easily distinguishable from the other trust-related constructs, and positive and negative constructs were often distinguishable. However, the items reflecting positive trust attitude constructs or positive trustworthiness perceptions showed low discriminant validity. Differences in findings between studies raise questions warranting further investigation in future research, including differences in correlations among latent constructs varying from very high (e.g. 12 inter-factor correlations above.9 in Study 2) to more moderate (e.g. only three correlations above.8 in Study 4). Further, the results from one study (Study 4) suggested that legitimacy, fairness, and voice were especially highly correlated and may form a single higher-order factor, but the other studies did not. Future research is needed to determine when and why different higher-order factor structures may emerge in different institutional contexts or with different samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-150
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Trust Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Confidence
  • Dispositional trust
  • Fairness
  • Justice
  • Legitimacy
  • Trust in institutions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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