Creating trust through narrative strategy

Gabbay, SM. & Leenders, RTAJ., Nov-2003, In : Rationality and Society. 15, 4, p. 509-539 31 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • SM Gabbay
  • RTAJ Leenders

In the rational model of trust, an actor's level of trust is a function of the expected gain and loss involved. As a consequence, if A can influence the gain and loss perceived by B, A can influence B's level of trust. In this article we study how A can do this through the strategic use of narrative. In particular, we show how actors who attempt to recruit others into network marketing employ narrative in manipulating the recruit's expectations. For example, we show how the costs involved in recruiting friends and family into network marketing are transformed into benefit through narrative strategies. Through the strategic use of narrative, recruiters change the recruit's perception of the evidence underlying the trust decision and make perfectly rational behavior that was not considered rational before. In addition, we argue that recruiters use similar narrative on themselves in reconfirming the validity of their own previous decision to trust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-539
Number of pages31
JournalRationality and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2003


  • belief, multi-level marketing, narrative network marketing, rational choice, recruiting trust

ID: 584776