Automatic Trust: Positive Interpersonal Associations and Positive Reputations
30 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 9, 2008
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.
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