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!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering