MiD designer Jordan Shade (UaRTS) and I presenting the timeline tool to the other workshop participants.

MiD designer Jordan Shade (UaRTS) and I presenting the timeline tool to the other workshop participants.

Can you quantify trust?

We tackle the qualitative aspect by designing a visual interview tool for asking focused, personal questions about trust and how it changes/develops over time.

During the workshop, held in Beirut, participants wrote down words and phrases describing trust in a free association exercise. All the responses were then sorted into groups in order to define different areas /elements of trust. One of the results revealed how trust changes or develops over time.  In response to this topic, the Trust Timeline  was made.

The Trust Timeline  is a graphic representation of a timeline that uses small color-coded pieces to represent different phases of trust in a given relationship. The interviewer uses this tool to ask the interviewee about a relationship they had with an individual, an organization or even an institution (i.e political party, religious sect, etc..). The interviewee then chooses three to four major moments in time starting from the first encounter with the subject until the present moment, and consequently maps out the trust they had or did not have for it by drawing onto the image.



Using the small color-coded pieces, which have titles ranging from “environment” to “personal quality” to “shared experience” , the interviewer and interviewee verbally talk about  the different points marked on the timeline. These pieces represent the factors which led to a gain or loss of trust at each moment. This activity helps the interviewee reflect on how trust was formed, and what influenced them in their feelings of trust. The interviewer uses the tool to keep the conversation focused on one individual/organization/institution and along the span of time indicated by the interviewee. This way, more pointed data can be collected about how people come to feel trust for others. 

Prototype being tested in an interview.

Prototype being tested in an interview.


Once the point in time has been explored and described, the interviewee ranks the different phases by importance to their understanding of trust at that time. This way, quantitative data can also be mapped onto the time line via the ranking. The color-coding element also allows the time line to be read quickly in terms of what factors people value when evaluating trust or distrust.



Over the next week, by gathering more completed time lines, we were able, with the help of MiD designers and Lebanese designers to find patters and trends in how Lebanese citizens evaluate trust in their relationships between each other, their community and their governmental institutions.