The reputational consequences of generalized trust

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The present research examines the reputational consequences of generalized trust. High-trust individuals are seen as moral and sociable, but not necessarily competent. When controlling for other traits, there is a negative relationship between trust and perceived competence (Studies 1 and 2). Compared with optimism, generalized trust has stronger effects on morality and sociability (Study 2). Furthermore, people judge those who do not discriminate between trustworthy and untrustworthy groups (unconditional trustors) more negatively than those who only trust groups that are, in fact, trustworthy (conditional trustors). Unconditional trust and unconditional distrust are both viewed negatively (Study 3), even after controlling for attitudinal similarity (Study 4). Critically, both generalized trust and discriminant ability (i.e., conditional trust) have independent reputational benefits (Study 5). These studies suggest that generalized trust plays an important role in how we perceive and judge others
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-507
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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