Announcement: IPA Workshop on Trust/Distrust in New Media

The event will be held in Washington D.C. on 21 March.  Look for details under events by end of the week.

Trust and distrust as two separate, but related, concepts are critical to Cognitive Security.  Our Cognitive Security depends on our acting with confidence based on who we trust and who we distrust in the New Media/Information Environment.  They provide the foundation for our first line of defense against attempts to maliciously manipulate us.  They help guide us in terms of who we listen to and who we open up to.


The workshop is designed to consider the role and importance of trust and distrust in today’s New Media/Information Environment.  There is a significant school of thought in psychology and sociology that trust and distrust are two separate but related concepts:


“In our analysis we define trust in terms of confident positive expectations regarding another’s conduct, and distrust in terms of confident negative expectations regarding another’s conduct.  We use the term “another’s conduct” in a very specific, but encompassing, sense, addressing another’s words, actions and decisions (what another says and does and how he or she makes decisions).  By “confident positive expectations,” we mean a belief in, a propensity to attribute virtuous intentions to, and a willingness to act on the basis of another’s conduct.  Conversely, by “confident negative expectations,” we mean a fear of, a propensity to attribute sinister intentions to, and a desire to buffer oneself from the effects of another’s conduct.  We assert that both trust and distrust involve movements toward certainty: trust concerning expectations of things hoped for and distrust concerning expectations of things feared.

We argue that trust and distrust are separate but linked dimensions.  Moreover, we propose that trust and distrust are not opposite ends of single continuum.  There are elements that contribute to the growth and decline of trust, and there are elements that contribute to the growth and decline of distrust.  These elements grow and develop through an individual’s experiences with another in the various facet-specific transactions of multiplex relations.  Although broad, generalized inferences across the links may occur (i.e., strong levels of trust in some elements may generalize to create lower levels of distrust in others and vice versa).  It is possible for parties to both trust and distrust one another, given different experiences within the various facet of complex interpersonal relationships.”[1]


While a lot of research and development of practical applications has been done in traditional environments, little has been done in the New Media/Information Environment of today.  The workshop will consider how previous definitions of trust and distrust are translated in the new environment.  We will take a computational approach.  Examples of important questions we must consider are (1) How do we measure trust and distrust? (2) How are trust and distrust related to each other? (3) How can measures of trust and distrust be used for planning and monitoring messaging campaigns?  (4) How can we increase, decrease and exploit trust and distrust.  We will consider these questions from a computational perspective in terms of being able to automate and answer them at large scales.

[1] R. J. Lewicki, D. J. McAllister, and R. J. Bies. Trust and distrust: New relationships and realities. Academy of management Review, 23(3):438–458, 1998