But a new study suggests that, in some instances, people may actually be less trusting of others when they are in a pleasant mood.
“A person’s mood may determine how much they rely on subtle – or not so subtle -- cues when evaluating whether to trust someone,” said Robert Lount, author of the study and assistant professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.
In five separate experiments, Lount found that people in a positive mood were more likely than those in a neutral mood to follow cues or stereotypes when determining whether they should trust someone.
If you are predisposed to trust a stranger – because he belongs to the same club as you, or he has a “trustworthy” face -- a happy mood makes you even more likely to trust him.
But if you are predisposed to not trust him, a positive mood will make you even less trusting than normal.
“I think the assumption is that if you make someone happy, they are going to be more likely to trust you. But that only works if they are already predisposed to trust you,” Lount said.
“If you’re a professional meeting new clients, you may think if you buy them a nice lunch and make them happy, you’re building trust. But that can actually backfire if the client has some reason to be suspicious of you,” he said.
The study appears in the March 2010 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
All five experiments involved undergraduate students who took part in various scenarios in which they were put into positive or neutral moods, and were then given the opportunity to show trust or distrust toward a stranger.
In one study, for example, participants were first asked to write one of two short essays. Some wrote about an experience that made them happy while others wrote about what they did in a typical day. Those writing tasks were previously shown to put people in a happy or neutral mood.
The participants were then shown a picture of a person and asked a variety of questions designed to find out how much they would trust him. For example, one question asked how likely the participants thought it would be that the person would intentionally misrepresent their point of view to others.
All the pictures were created by a software program that made the faces appear trustworthy or untrustworthy to most people. A trustworthy person had a round face, round eyes and was clean shaven. An untrustworthy person had a narrow face, narrow eyes and facial hair.
The results were striking: participants in a positive mood evaluated the person with the trustworthy features as more trustworthy than did those in a neutral mood.
Conversely, the happy people were less trusting of the person with untrustworthy features than were those in the neutral mood.
“For those in a good mood, it all depended on the cues that the pictured person gave that suggested whether he was trustworthy or not,” Lount said.
But why would happy people rely more on stereotypes and cues to evaluate a person’s trustworthiness?
Research suggests the answer relies on motivation, Lount said.
“When you’re happy, you’re less motivated to carefully process information,” he said.
“You feel like everything is going OK, so there is no reason to search out new information. You can rely on your previous expectations to guide you through a situation.”
Another one of the experiments provided evidence for that theory. In this experiment, the participants were put in a happy or neutral mood. They were then asked to memorize a nine-digit number, which they would be asked to repeat in a few minutes.
Then, they were shown pictures of untrustworthy faces and asked to rate how trustworthy each face looked.
In this case, people in a neutral mood responded much as did the happy people in the previous experiments – they rated untrustworthy faces as even more untrustworthy.
“In this experiment, people’s minds were busy trying to remember the number so they processed information differently than they normally did,” Lount said.
“They relied more on the cues, just like happy people did.”
Lount said people aren’t aware of this process and don’t even know how their mood is affecting how they evaluate others.
“You need to be careful, especially when you’re happy. You should ask yourself how your mood may be affecting your willingness to trust or distrust another person.”Contact: Robert Lount, (614) 292-0737; Lount@fisher.osu.edu
Robert Lount | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...
Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
28.09.2017 | Event News
16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences
16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy