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IACM 2023

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Who Has The Right To Be An Ally?: Perceptions of Psychological Standing Shape Judgements of An Ally’s Trustworthiness and Trust

What explains variation in the trust we feel towards individuals who engage in allyship? Using a multi-method approach, this work demonstrates that psychological standing – a judgment of one’s legitimacy to act on behalf of a social cause or issue – plays a significant role in shaping perceptions of trustworthiness and trust in an ally. In an archival study using MBA students’ nominations for a DEI award (n=151), we see that trusted allies are recognized for their psychological standing, ability, benevolence, and integrity, and that benevolence-based characteristics are most widely recognized as a sign of trust. This finding is further supported in our field study with PhD students were asked for their perceptions about their advisors (n=317), in a context where perceivers had a wide range of trust in prospective allies. Serial mediation analyses show a direct impact of psychological standing on trust, and an indirect impact through trustworthiness. In sum, these studies complement existing work on trust, while also bringing to light new information about trust in the context of allyship.

Preeti Vani
Stanford University
United States


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