Trusting Others: The Polarization Effect of Need for Closure
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Forthcoming
64 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2014
Date Written: April 9, 2014
Because trust-related issues inherently involve uncertainty, we expected individuals' social-cognitive motivation to manage uncertainty – which is captured by their need for closure – to influence their level of trust in others. Through the results of six studies, we showed that higher need for closure was related to more polarized trust judgments (i.e., low trust in distant others and high trust in close others) in the case of both chronic and situational need for closure. Moreover, participants with high need for closure did not revise their level of trust when they received feedback about the trustees' actual trustworthiness, whereas participants with low need for closure did. Overall, our findings indicate that polarized (either high or low, as opposed to moderate) and persistent levels of trust may serve people's seizing and freezing needs for achieving cognitive closure.
Keywords: Need for closure, trust, uncertainty, interpersonal closeness
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