Automatic Trust: Positive Interpersonal Associations and Positive Reputations

30 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008

Date Written: November 9, 2008

Abstract

The development of trust, a fundamental, complex aspect of human interaction, requires a combination of both controlled and automatic mental processes. Most trust models suggest that individuals' cognitive consciousness assess whether to trust. Nonconscious cognitive processes, however, can also play a part in the initiation and development of trust. This paper investigates the effects of both subtle interpersonal association cues and unsubtle reputation information on the automatic, nonconscious instigation of trust. In an experiment, we examined individuals' trust toward unacquainted others after they experienced subliminal presentations of a positive interpersonal association cue and were consciously presented with positive or negative reputation information. The data show that, consistent with our previous studies (Huang & Murnighan, 2008), positive subliminal interpersonal association cues generate more automatic trust than subliminal meaningless syllables, and this effect occurs without individuals' awareness. Moreover, subliminal presentations of a positive interpersonal association cue reproduce the effects of positive reputation information on trust behavior and emotional reactions to possible reciprocity, even when the trustee has a negative reputation. The discussion explores possible perceptual and emotional mechanisms of nonconsciously instigated trust and the implications of building a more comprehensive trust model.

Suggested Citation

Huang, Li and Murnighan, John Keith, Automatic Trust: Positive Interpersonal Associations and Positive Reputations (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1298498 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1298498

Li Huang (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

John Keith Murnighan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Leverone Hall, 360
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-467-3566 (Phone)
847-491-8896 (Fax)

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