Online vs Offline : A reflection on “Trust without Touch”

“Trust without Touch: Jumpstarting long-distance trust with initial social activities” presented by Jun Zheng et al. , talks about the importance of communication with partners before working and how the face-to-face interaction isn’t necessarily the only way of establishing trust between partners.


It was thought that, remote groups don’t work as well as the contemporary group because “Trust needs Touch”. Thus, as the remote group lacks the “Touch”, they don’t grow enough Trust to perform well with each other. The paper argues that, touch or face-to-face interaction isn’t necessarily only way to establish trust within a group. The similar level of trust can be gained using

  • Social Chat
  • Photo
  • personal Information Sheet

They run experiment on 200 people, and use Day-trader Invested Task, a Prison’s Dilemma game. After their experiment, they found out that Face-to-face interaction definitely yields the best trust among the group.

However, engaging in a text chat beforehand about social
things, a “getting acquainted” session, is nearly as good in
establishing trust. Having a photograph is also effective,
nearly as strong as the social chat or in-person meeting.
Having a static presentation of the kinds of social
information that is exchanged normally in a getting
acquainted session is no better than having nothing.


The result wasn’t all that surprising to me. I mean being one of the citizens of the internet, I could relate quite well with it. I’ve made many close friends using social media than I have been able to in real life. Seeing the photograph definitely helped me have more trust in that person because in that way I’d have feel like they are actually a real person. Talking about social matters also definitely helps building trust with strangers on the internet rather than having no interaction at all (obviously).

But to me, the result “Having a photograph is also effective,
nearly as strong as the social chat or in-person meeting.
” was quite surprising.

Image result for nickelback photograph
Look at this photograph~

I mean I expect people to have more trust in someone after seeing their photograph, but it to be as strong as social chat or in-person meeting is surprising. But the paper came out in 2002, and I guess these days we have way too many technologies that people can use to create fake identity/photo and what not, knowing which, made us more skeptic and definitely be less trustful towards people. But that’s just my take on it.

Another matter that was pretty interesting was, the idea of using ” Day-trader Invested Task” to determine whether a group of people have established trust among themselves. In a recent paper I went through, they used the same tactics to figure out whether the group trusted each other. I think that’s pretty interesting and something I can use later on.

Another thing I was thinking about while going through the paper was, It reminded me of one of the papers one of my classmates covered, “Team Dating Leads to Better Online Ad Hoc Collaborations“. It also worked on similar concept. I just found it quite interesting so I wanted to put it out there.