Perceptions of trust in football contexts : a multi-methodological approach
- Publisher: Northumbria University
The concept of trust features prominently in research into interpersonal relations and effective leadership. Yet while references to trust are extensive, gaps regarding the conceptualisation and measurement of trust exist in a number of contexts in the psychological literature. This is particularly true in the context of sport, where the relevance and worth of trust in leaders is routinely acknowledged but rarely seen from the truster’s perspective; thus, little is known about how followers define, appraise and award trust. The present series of studies sought to examine perceptions of trust in the context of football, devising five distinctive investigations to explore trust in football leaders from the perspectives of both close followers (players) and distant followers (fans). Studies 1 & 2 explored academy football players’ views on trust, first through interviews, and then by employing a computer-based repertory grid technique. Findings demonstrated the relevance of trust to players in professional academy settings where both cognitive and affective sources of trust are employed in appraisals. Furthermore, results showed that within high-level football teams, both male and female players construct trust in a similar manner, differentiating trusted figures from others by appraising reliability, personal characteristics and interactions. Utilising online survey techniques, Studies 3 and 4 examined the perspective of football fans. Study 3 tracked the decline in trust of national leaders over the course of a World Cup competition, and explored fans’ reasons for awarding trust. Results demonstrate that appraisals of trust were based primarily on outcomes and observable role-related competencies such as selections and tactics. Study 4 examined fans’ trust in both club and national managers, testing the relevance of items from existing trust measures. Findings indicated that trust in more proximal distant leaders (club managers) was significantly higher than trust in national leaders. Furthermore the results showed that perceptions of likeability and reliability were the most consistent predictors of trust in both types of manager. Study 5 proposed a conceptual model of trust in football leaders which illustrates the trust appraisals made by both close and distant followers in Studies 1-4. Using the critical incident technique, the final study tested the adequacy of the proposed model for explaining ‘real-world’ incidents where trust had been gained or lost. Results demonstrated the efficacy of the model, as well as demonstrating similarities and differences among both player and fan appraisals, and incidents where trust was gained or lost. Importantly, this research presents a contribution to the understanding of trust in football contexts. Moreover, the work demonstrates the types of appraisals made by two distinct kinds of followers in this setting, and the value of employing mixed methods in research of this type.