Date of Award

4-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Howard

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Barry Goetz

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

This study emerged following an examination of the work by Susan Shapiro (1987) delineating the construct of impersonal trust, and Shapiro's analysis of trust was applied to an understanding of the impersonal trust relationship which Americans have with Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Few fields outside of organizational studies have undertaken efforts to operationalize impersonal trust and to distinguish it from other related constructs, so this exploratory study assessed whether variables associated with interpersonal trust as outlined by Meyer and Ward (2009) were also associated with impersonal trust in FDA. This study further examined whether measures of impersonal trust could be distinguished from a measure of the related construct of dependence. Lastly, as a practical concern, this study examined both trust in and dependence on FDA among a subset of older Americans. This study found that the majority of subjects expressed both trust in and dependence on FDA, that variables associated with personal trust were also associated with impersonal trust, and that measures of trust were empirically indistinguishable from measures of dependence. This study confirmed results obtained by Meyer and Ward (2009; 2013) which indicated that, while trust and dependence are theoretically distinct constructs, they often exist simultaneously under a given set of circumstances and are difficult to empirically demarcate.

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