Fibbing About Your Feelings: The Relationship between Emotional Misrepresentation and Trust
79 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017 Last revised: 11 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 1, 2017
Across two pilot studies, and six main experiments, I examine the relationship between emotional misrepresentation and interpersonal trust. I focus on one’s decision to either feign happiness or express authentic negative emotion when one is experiencing distress due to challenging personal circumstances. I find that emotional misrepresentation sends both positive and negative signals about one’s character, and thus has opposing effects on different trusting decisions. Emotional misrepresentation signals self-control and resilience, as well as dishonesty and distrust of others. As a result, individuals who misrepresent their emotions engender high competence-based trust (e.g., they are more likely to be trusted with difficult workplace tasks) but they engender low integrity-based trust (e.g., they are less likely to be trusted to provide their honest feedback to others). I explore these effects and their boundaries across a range of samples, contexts, and manipulations. This research unearths the circumstances in which self-expression helps versus harms interpersonal and workplace relationships, explores the antecedents and consequences of distinct dimensions of trust, and documents new consequences of inauthenticity.
Keywords: emotional misrepresentation; trust; affect; social cognition
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