The value of distrust

Yaacov Schul , Ruth Mayo , Eugene Burnstein


We assume that a state of distrust is the mental system’s signal that the environment is not normal—things may not be as they appear. Hence, individuals sense they should be on guard. In particular, they are likely to avoid routine strategies, ones proven to be optimal and regularly used in normal environments, because these strategies are easily anticipated by whoever may be seeking to deceive them. Conversely, a state of trust is associated with a feeling of safety. The environment is as it normally is and things really are as they appear to be. Thus, individuals see no reason to refrain from doing what they routinely do. Accordingly, we hypothesize that figuring out a new situation depends on the type of environment and the actor’s state of mind: in normal environments, where routine strategies are optimal, individuals who trust should outperform those who distrust; however, in unusual environments, where non-routine strategies are optimal, individuals who distrust should outperform those who trust. This paper reports three experiments that manipulate distrust via orienting tasks that participants perform prior to attempting to predict a series of events (Experiments 1 and 2) or solve matchstick arithmetic problems (Experiment 3). Performance success depends on discovering and implementing an appropriate rule. We found that, as predicted, the manipulation of distrust sensitized participants to the existence of non-routine contingencies, that is, contingencies that were not expected.
Author Yaacov Schul
Yaacov Schul,,
, Ruth Mayo
Ruth Mayo,,
, Eugene Burnstein (Wydział Psychologii)
Eugene Burnstein,,
- Wydział Psychologii
Journal seriesJournal of Experimental Social Psychology, ISSN 0022-1031, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2008
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in EnglishTrust; Distrust; Routine action; Decision making; Information processing
ASJC Classification3312 Sociology and Political Science; 3207 Social Psychology
Languageen angielski
2008_-_Yaacov_Schul_-_Thevalueofdistrust[retrieved-2016-03-12].pdf 282.86 KB
Score (nominal)35
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2008 = 1.618; WoS Impact Factor: 2008 = 2.5 (2) - 2008=3.199 (5)
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