Constraining the spread of distrust: An investigation of distrust and trust repair transfer effects

01 October 2018 → 30 September 2022
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Biological and physiological psychology not elsewhere classified
    • General psychology not elsewhere classified
    • Sexology
distrust trust repair transfer
Project description

Over the last few decades rising levels of general distrust are observed across Western societies.
This march of distrust is a concern as it threatens social relationships and social capital. Why does distrust continue to grow? In the present proposal, we theorize that this rise in distrust might occur because distrust can be transferred between entities. The first objective of this proposal is
to investigate if distrust in one person can indeed infect others that are associated with this person. Moreover, we expect that the transfer of distrust is especially dangerous because it is stronger than the equivalent transfer of trust. Our second objective is to examine this prediction, which can help us explain the rise of distrust. Through an fMRI study we will explore if distrust
transfer is a more intuitive and emotional-driven process than trust transfer, which is expected to be more calculative. The third objective of this proposal focuses on reducing the spread of distrust by investigating how distrust can be turned into regained trust. In this light, we expect that a sincere apology may not only enhance trust in the violator, but also indirectly reflect positively on others that are associated with the violator. Moreover, other group members may show repentance for the wrongdoing of the violator, which can also lead to trust repair. We assume that transfer effects of trust repair can be magnified by enlarging the representativeness of the person who shows repentance.