The detrimental effects of no trust: active decisions of no trust cause stronger affective and behavioral reactions than inactive decisions


In two experimental studies, we investigated the affective (Studies 1 and 2) and behavioral (Study 2) effects of not being trusted. In an adapted version of the Trust Game paradigm, participants were all assigned the position of Person B, and learned that their opponent (Person A) had decided to not let them divide monetary outcomes. This had either been an inactive decision (Person A had not offered them the option to distribute outcomes) or an active decision (Person A had taken away their option to distribute outcomes). Results of both studies reveal that reactions to not being trusted were significantly affected by whether this decision was active or inactive. Active decisions evoked a more negative evaluation toward Person A, led participants to experience more negative emotions, and lowered their satisfaction with the final outcome, even though payoffs and final earnings were held constant between the conditions (Study 1). In addition, when the decision not to trust had been an active decision, participants subsequently behaved less altruistic, as evidenced by significant lower allocations in a subsequent Dictator Game (Study 2). Interestingly, this reduction in altruism was not restricted to encounters with Person A, but also extended to an uninvolved other (Person C).

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