Who is Trustworthy? Predicting Trustworthy Intentions and Behavior

Forthcoming, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

87 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017 Last revised: 5 Aug 2018

Emma Levine

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

T. Bradford Bitterly

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Taya R. Cohen

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: February 1, 2017

Abstract

Existing trust research has disproportionately focused on what makes people more or less trusting, and has largely ignored the question of what makes people more or less trustworthy. In this investigation, we deepen our understanding of trustworthiness. Across six studies using economic games that measure trustworthy behavior and survey items that measure trustworthy intentions, we explore the personality traits that predict trustworthiness. We demonstrate that guilt-proneness predicts trustworthiness better than a variety of other personality measures, and we identify sense of interpersonal responsibility as the underlying mechanism by both measuring it and manipulating it directly. People who are high in guilt-proneness are more likely to be trustworthy than are individuals who are low in guilt-proneness, but they are not universally more generous. We demonstrate that people high in guilt-proneness are more likely to behave in interpersonally sensitive ways when they are more responsible for others’ outcomes. We also explore potential interventions to increase trustworthiness. Our findings fill a significant gap in the trust literature by building a foundation for investigating trustworthiness, by identifying a trait predictor of trustworthy intentions and behavior, and by providing practical advice for deciding in whom we should place our trust.

Keywords: trust, trustworthiness, guilt, guilt-proneness, responsibility, Rely-or-Verify game

Suggested Citation

Levine, Emma and Bitterly, T. Bradford and Cohen, Taya R. and Schweitzer, Maurice E., Who is Trustworthy? Predicting Trustworthy Intentions and Behavior (February 1, 2017). Forthcoming, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2910069 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2910069

Emma Levine (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

T. Bradford Bitterly

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Taya R. Cohen

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
4122686677 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/our-faculty-and-research/about-our-faculty/faculty-profiles/tcohen/cohen-t

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

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