Changes In The Types Of Trust Relationships Of Adolescents In The Education


A greater interest in the problem of trust in the different spheres of human life and activities results in a natural social demand for research of trust among the subjects of the educational environment. Mutual trust between schoolers and trust relationships in the teacher-student dyad positively influence the mental development of a student’s personality, stimulate his activity towards creative development and self-development and prepare him to positively sort out diverse life situations and vocational self-determination. Trust mechanism, which evolves on the basis of common values and motivations and congruence of personality prospects, manifests when schoolers perceive the bearer of common values. Those values shape his own subjective space, as being emotionally attractive, reliable, inclined to defend their common motives and interests. Trust relationships allow the subjects of the educational environment to build up relationships with each other, express their minds and feelings openly, assume the responsibility for that what happens to and around them. Trust in the dyads of “student-student” and “student-teacher” encourages academic achievement, creative self-actualization of a student’s personality, makes him be confident in himself and his own abilities and realization of his potential. Therefore, trust relationships provide consent, mutually enriching dialogue and understanding and cooperation between the subjects of the educational environment. But the underlying motives, value orientations, beliefs, attitudes, ideals, world outlook of students tend to transform, which leads to changes in the forms of dominant trust depending on the character of group dynamics in the process of evolving and maintaining trust relationships in the education.

Keywords: Trustvaluesmotivationsmotivation-and-value-based orientationthe educational environment


Instability of contemporary socio-economic conditions of the Russian society development, visible cultural shifts, a sweeping transformation of value orientations have provoked the crisis of trust in all the spheres of life. According to the polls of the Public Opinion Fund carried out in 43 entities in the Russian Federation in 2013, only one fifth of Russians (19%) think that the majority of people can be trusted. On the contrary, three fourths are certain that one should be wary about any relationships with other people. 60% of the respondents are ready to trust their loved ones, while a third of the respondents prefer being careful even with their nearest and dearest (Trust in Society, 2013). The problem of trust also applies to educational environment. Facts of conflict relationships between schoolers, students and teachers, bullying and mobbing, which classmates undergo, low achievement levels as well as problems that the subjects under test face (interpersonal and value-and-motivation-based), can testify to it.

Problem Statement

The survey of the Public Opinion Fund in 2013 showed that half of Russians expressed readiness to act together with other people who have the same goals and interests. Common values organically complete communality of interests and goals as factors of trust. Thus, according to A.B. Kupreychenko, “similarity or difference in value orientations is one of the conditions of trust/distrust” (Kupreychenko, 2008). Therefore, one can argue that communality of values is likely to create motivation for trust development. The age of adolescence is a sensitive period for shaping perceptions of trust relationships with the world. Among the features of adolescence there are also reactions of estrangement from significant adults and the formation of groups with peers. It is at this age when communication with peers mostly in the educational environment, taking place at this stage of personality development, attaches a greater importance and becomes teenagers’ urgent need, a source of new interests and behaviour (Rean & Kolominsky, 1999).

Trust is treated as one of the most important mechanisms defining the type of transition into adulthood as the process of socialization and individualization during adolescence (Chernova, 2006). It impacts on the development of cognitive, emotional and behavioural peculiarities of the teenager’s personality. And the nature of social conditions under which the individual is brought up and the climate of the educational environment have an immediate influence on the evolvement of trust relationships and motivation-and-value-based orientations of personality. The components of motivation-and-value-based orientation being interdependent and mutually conditioned determine a teenager’s activity-based attitude towards himself and the world and processes of individual improvement (Klimenko, 2014). The study into the components of the individual’s motivation-and-value-based orientations gives an idea of prevalent strives of the subjects of the educational environment and allows for evaluating and predicting their behaviour and their potential for evolving trust relationships within school setting and shaping of the subjective value of trust in teenagers’ minds. “The confidence factor is a strong component in the psychological interaction. In interpersonal relationships the role of an individual’s trust in a partner’s honesty and trustworthiness is great; sincerity and human decency in a social group are important factors for the security of intra-group interaction” (Dontsov & Perelygina, 2014, p. 41).

The developed motivation-and-value-based orientation of personality which serves as a basis for evolving trust relationships in the educational environment implies values shared by teachers and students (cognitive, altruistic, aesthetic, moral) as well as values of social recognition and material wellbeing. The studies show that values of social activity and management are less significant to them. At that, teachers and students differ much in their value-based attitude to health, communication and leisure. In the first place, these differences are associated with age peculiarities, needs and behaviour strategies of teachers and schoolers (Kiselyova & Shabanova, 2016).

For a person, who has already chosen his life principles, goals and values, the most essential objective is to form a secure subjective space adequate to his value and meaning-based, motivation and need-driven system. “Shaping of life-purpose orientations and the systemization of information about the world depend on specific features of the subjective world construction and world perception through the lens of security/insecurity, which effects social self-awareness and overriding social values” (Zinchenko, 2011, p. 6).

The construction of subjective space includes a person’s evaluation and selection of objects and people in his social setting who have mutually recognized principles, values and ideals. High level of trust as support of people who share them serves as a way for the individual to establish his own system of meaningful values, ideals and notions (Kupreychenko, 2008, p. 74).

A more intensive attention of scholars to practical aspects of trust development between the subjects of the educational environment could play a positive role, in spite of the fact that teenagers, reportedly, demonstrate a comparatively high level of interpersonal and institutional trust. At the same time, low level of trust at this age, on the contrary, testifies to the individual’s inclination to deviant behaviour (Dostovalov, 2000). The level of teenagers’ trust in the world, friends and parents has, in general, a leading part in the process of the individual’s self-awareness formation, and since the individual at different stages of socialization is involved in various institutional structures then institutional trust becomes essential for the establishment of trust relationships. In the educational environment trust can take different forms (trust in education system, in the educational institution as an organization, in the educational establishment administration, etc.). In particular, A.N. Tatarko and N.M. Lebedeva find that the level of institutional trust with the youth is higher than with adults (Tatarko & Lebedeva, 2009). The polls show that young people trust media, large business, the system of power and justice, civic organizations and educational establishments more than adults. However, an increased youth penchant for trust-based relationships can be “the manifestation of a naturally determined man’s forming stage - the stage of learning the surrounding world, the stage of openness to everything new and unknown” (Kupreychenko & Mersiyanova, 2013, pp. 26-27). With the lack of critical thinking and insufficient life experience a tendency to trust can acquire a form of overdependence, which creates a threat to the teenager’s psychological security. In either event, trust relationships in their interpersonal and institutional dimension make it possible to build sustainable bonds and relations between the subjects of educational process, provide integration and collaborative opportunities for improving quality of education (Gorina, 2014).

The longitudinal studies carried out in 400 elementary schools of Chicago show “trust reduces the sense of risk associated with change” (Bryk & Schneider, 2003, р. 43). The 4-year studies of American researchers conducted in 12 different schools demonstrate that a high level of trust in relationships between the subjects of the educational process in no small way affects addressing the key goal of any educational institution – enhancement of the educational process’ efficiency. “A school with a low score on relational trust at the end of our study had only a one-in-seven chance of demonstrating improved academic productivity. …On average, these improving schools recorded increases in student learning of 8 percent in reading and 20 percent in mathematics in a five-year period” (Bryk & Schneider, 2003, р.44).

Considering changes in trust relationships in the educational environment, it is worthwhile to turn to the three-component model of trust forwarded by R. Lewicky, M. Stevenson and B. Bunker. It includes: a) calculus–based trust; b) knowledge-based trust; c) identification-based trust. So, calculus-based trust develops when one or another individual is thought to be implicitly useful by the subject of the educational environment. Depending on benefits gained the subject of trust occasionally ignores the fact which social group the object of trust represents, to what extent he is pleasant to deal with and, sometimes, even a more tolerant attitude to his negative qualities is shaped. Knowledge-based trust emerges when the subject of the educational environment accumulates enough experience in communicating with the object of trust, when he can claim that he understands his motives well enough to predict his behaviour. It can be illustrated by the example described by an outstanding Russian educator A.S. Makarenko in his book “The Pedagogical Poem”. He gives a teenager, a former young offender, of the colony for street children the task of delivering a large sum of money. The young boy receives the task with incredulity: “Are you putting me on? No way you trust me so much!” (Makarenko, 1981, p. 170). He justifies the confidence imposed on him and later chose the career of a teacher. This pedagogical role of trust as well as a vector of its development leads to identification-based trust which is built on the subject’s of the educational environment being aware of sharing his affinity and value-and-motivation-driven commonality with the individual who acts as the object of trust, be it a classmate, or a teacher (Lewicky, 1997).

The experiments conducted in American schools shows that trust established between students and teachers can lower the proneness to conflict in social interaction, improve academic achievement. “The environment infused with love and trust positively affects the entire mental development of personality, especially its moral formation, stimulates activity, creative self-development, makes one bent on positively resolving the rough and tumble of life” (Kolpakova, 1992). However, while the issues of trust in the dyad “student-teacher” have often been the subject-matter of scientific analysis, there has been little research on trust between students as subjects of educational process, although it is obvious that trust relationships in groups has its specifics.

Socio-psychological specific features of a school class align with small groups’ features and are defined by group work, peculiarities of communication process within the group, established emotional bonding, status-role structure. Domestic researchers state that educational activity as a specific form of the subject’s activity brings to light specific types of trust: activity-coping-based, information-influence-based and confidentiality-security-based trust (Sidorenkov, 2014, pp. 107-108). Each of these trust types includes the following components: cognitive (the group member strongly believes that the object of trust has or lacks certain qualities); emotionally-evaluative (positive or negative assessment of the trust object); behavioural (readiness to interact with the object of trust in a certain way). Activity-coping-based trust (ACT) reveals itself when the subject of the educational environment evaluates instrumental knowledge and skills of Another, is sure that Another can perform efficiently; it also reflects the subject’s readiness to cooperate with him. This type of trust is defined by Another’s performance, due expertise that Another shows in this or that type of activity. A low indicator of ACT speaks about distrust between the subjects and is expressed by negative assessment of other members’ knowledge and skills, mutual closedness, proneness to demonstrating superiority over other group members. Information-influence-based trust (IIT) rests on the subject’s of the educational environment evaluations of Another’ stance, expresses the subject’s conviction that Another’ opinion is right and his readiness to accept Another’ views, values, opinion, i.e. it reflects a measure of mutual information’ openness, readiness of group members to accept one’s influence on another. A low indicator of IIT is associated with ignoring beliefs and opinions of other group members, mutual closedness. Confidentiality-security-based trust (CST) is built on individuals’ assessments of Another’ moral make-up and expresses conviction in his decency, readiness to open themselves to him and rely on him without being cautious. As E.B. Perelygina underlines “trust is based on one’s being sure of another person’s honesty, solidarity, mutual understanding, which determines not only the formation of respect and the feeling of being secured but also the possibility to find support in difficult life situations as well as in crisis social situations (Perelygina, 2016, p. 196). At that a low indicator of CST is marked by the individual’s negative moral assessments of his group member, conviction in certain danger while interacting with them, and, consequently, manifestation of mutual restraint.

Research Questions

1.What type of trust are students of a class more inclined to?

2. Is there any change in choosing a preferable type of trust relationships by the same students during adolescence period and upon reconsideration of motivation- and-value-based orientations?

Purpose of the Study

Based on the theoretical analysis and empirical research it is expedient to trace the immediate dynamics of trust types depending on the stage of group relationships development on the background of transformations of the participants’ motivation-and-value-based orientations in the process of personality development and gradual teambuilding.

Research Methods

In order to examine dynamics of trust types in a class setting, the methodology for the study of interpersonal trust by A.V. Sidorenkov and I.I. Sidorenkova was used (Sidorenkov & Sidorenkova, 2014, p. 236). A total sample was 50 participants (N=50) representing students of the Ural College of Economics. The study was executed on a two-stage basis: 1) in 2016 the survey was administered to first-year students (14-15 year old); 2) in 2017 the same students (second-year students) completed the survey. The method used included three subscales for studying three types of interpersonal trust within the group: confidentiality-security-based trust (CST), information-influence-based trust (IIT) and activity-coping-based trust (ACT). Stimulus material includes 12 statements, four statements for each of subscales. All the statements are reverse coded in order to lower their “social desirability” and increase validity of the subjects’ answers. The instrument was designed on the basis of ordinal scale with bipolar principle of attributes ordering. The estimates of pronouncement of the attribute, which the statement reflected, was carried out using the method of “semantic differential”. This technique allowed for measuring pronouncement of interpersonal trust within the group on the whole and direction of interpersonal “trust” choices with regard to each type of it. At the first stage of the study individual indicators (total scores) were calculated for each subscale (CST, IIT, ACT) separately. At the second stage CST, IIT, ACT coefficients which represented arithmetic average of the respondents’ individual indicators were evaluated. All the CST, IIT, ACT indicators fell in the interval from 4 to 28. The higher the indicator was, the more the corresponding type of trust was expressed.


The identification of the interpersonal trust level of the first-years students’ group showed the overall average of trust relationships’ pronouncement and prevalence of activity-coping-based trust (ACT) whose coefficient was 15.4. As for other types of trust’ preferability, IIT coefficient was 14.8 and CST coefficient equaled 14.3. A year later an evolution of trust forms occurred as reported by the same students: initial preference of ACT changed to IIT dominance whose coefficient increased in value to 15.7 with the concurrent decrease of ACT (second-year students had ACT coefficient of 14.9) and some growth of CST (14.7). These data testify to the fact that activity-coping-based trust (ACT) prevails at the first stages of class collective formation while, as relationships develop and enhance, indicators of information-influence-based trust (IIT) and confidentiality-security-based trust (CST) increase. Therefore, in the process of group dynamics a switch of cognitive, emotionally evaluative and behavioural manifestations from expressing conviction in the object’s of trust competence, sufficient level of knowledge and skills to expressing preassurance in his opinion’ accuracy, readiness to accept his stance as corresponding to the subjects of trust own value-and meaning-based and need-and-motivation-driven system and confidence in secure interaction with Another on the basis of strong conviction in his decency and trustworthiness, takes place. At that “personal relationships are not institutionalized, hence their sensitivity to environment changes and fluctuations in regarding others as among “theirs”» (Zinchenko & Perelygina, 2013, p.108). In many respects, it occurs due to the fact that with moving to adulthood the individual sustainably incorporates motivation-and value-based guides of his course-mates into his own subjective space and refines the balance of dominating personal values. This process corresponds to a positive phase of puberty period starting with the age of 15-16 and is characterized by gradual harmonization of personality. At this stage the process of motivation-and value-based orientations’ transformation occurs, which, as domestic research efforts show, is characterized by growing indicators of such values as kindness, stimulation, tradition, conformity; teenagers become increasingly aware of the utmost importance of trust and universal human values (Lokteva, 2012, p. 257). Such trajectory of motivation-and-value-based orientations’ transformation leads to changes in personality subjective space along affirmative humanistic lines.

Comparing information-influence-based trust (IIT) and confidentiality-security-based trust (CST) with the three-component trust model of R. Lewicky, M. Stevenson and B. Bunker gives reason to suppose that they can be squared with knowledge-based trust since in the course of education the subjects of group relationships gain the opportunity to know each other well enough to predict the prospects for further interpersonal interaction. This process becomes a vehicle for evolutionary moving toward trust based on equivalence of world outlook and value orientations. Therefore, we see that changes in the schoolers’ trust forms in the educational environment are determined by the diversity of factors associated with personal development, involvement of the individuals into the process of interpersonal interaction within the class group, a phase of group dynamics.


During the period of adolescence and upon transformations of motivation-and-value-based orientations, the teenagers demonstrate changes in choosing a preferable type of trust relationships. It is indicated by increasing values of information-influence-based trust (IIT) and confidentiality-security-based trust (CST). At that, a significant factor of changes in balancing overriding types of trust among the subjects of the educational environment is dynamics of group relationships development manifesting in gradual group cohesion, the growth of mutual support, entrenchment of the key status-role positions of the members. Trust establishment between teenagers and other subjects of trust relationships promotes their creative self-realization, creates personality potential for a successful social adaptation in the changing world, eases concerns associated with risk under the ever-changing circumstances of the educational environment and creates conditions for improving academic achievement. The class group, whose intra-relationships in the dyad of “student-student” and “student-teacher” are built on principles of trust, is capable of achieving better results compared to groups that lack this characteristic (Coleman, 2001). Thus, trust in the educational environment plays a role of a tool for enhancing efficiency of education, creates resources for improving quality of education, and optimizing interpersonal trust of the subject of the educational environment towards others and the entire world.


The article was supported with a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (project № 16-18-00032).


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18 December 2019

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Child psychology, developmental psychology, child care, child upbringing, family psychology

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Dontsov, A., Gaidamashko, I., Perelygina, E., & Syutkina, E. (2019). Changes In The Types Of Trust Relationships Of Adolescents In The Education. In S. Sheridan, & N. Veraksa (Eds.), Early Childhood Care and Education, vol 43. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 213-220). Future Academy.