Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Who do you trust? Men and women answer that differently

06.07.2005


Men and women differ in how they decide which strangers they can trust, according to new research.



A study found that men tended to trust people who were part of a group with them. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to trust strangers who shared some personal connection, such as a friend of a friend.

“There are different ways to determine who is a part of your in-group, to decide who you can trust when you first meet a stranger,” said Marilynn Brewer, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.


“For women, this in-group is me and my friends and family and their friends and family. For men, the in-group is my team or my company or my club. These are the people we feel we can trust.”

The results suggest that men can be as social as women, but in a different way, Brewer said.

“Researchers sometimes claim that men are less socially oriented than women, but our research shows that men can be very connected to other people – they are just connected in a different way.

“Men look for symbolic connections that you get from belonging to the same group, rather than for personal connections that women prefer.”

Brewer conducted the study with William Maddux, a former graduate student at Ohio State who is now an assistant professor at Northwestern University. Their results appear in the current issue of the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

The study involved 147 students at Ohio State. The students were seated in a computer lab where they made online decisions whether to accept a sure-thing payment of $3 from the researchers or an unknown allocation from a stranger, who supposedly had up to $11 to distribute as he or she wished.

The participants learned only one thing about the stranger on the other end of the online connection – the university he or she attended. The question the participants faced was how much could they trust this stranger to share their wealth with them, and on what would they base that trust?

The participants actually made the choice three different times. One time the participants were told that the stranger attended Ohio State – the same university as the participants themselves.

In a second trial, participants were told that the stranger attended another university, but one in which the participant had earlier indicated he or she had a friend.

In the third instance, participants were told the stranger was from a university in which the participant did not know anybody.

The purpose was to see which person the participants would trust most to share some of their $11 – would it be someone who is in the same group as you (in this case, Ohio State), someone who has possible connections to a friend (a university where you know someone), or someone from a university in which you have no connections?

After the three trials, the participants were asked to rate how much they trusted the stranger to make a decision that was favorable to them. They were also directly asked how much money they thought the other person gave them.

Overall, the results showed American college students were very trusting of strangers in this situation, Brewer said. In all cases, more than three-quarters of the students chose to take a chance and accept the unknown allocation from the stranger rather than the sure $3 from the researchers.

Men and women didn’t differ in their likelihood of accepting the stranger’s unknown allocation instead of the sure $3. But the researchers said this probably was related to the fact that women are less likely to take risks than are men.

But there were interesting gender differences in the participants’ responses to the questions about whom among the strangers they trusted to give them more than $3.

Men were much more likely to say they trusted the stranger from Ohio State – part of their group – than they were strangers from other universities, whether they knew someone at the institutions or not.

Women, while they trusted the stranger from Ohio State, were also significantly more likely than men to trust the stranger from a university at which they had a friend – implying a potential personal connection.

The same gender differences were found when participants estimated how much money they expected to receive from each of the three strangers.

“The bottom line is that women tend to trust strangers if they think they are connected to that person in some extended friendship network. Their network is based on interpersonal relationships,” Brewer said.

“Men showed trust more on a symbolic rather than an interpersonal basis – you’re either in my group or not in my group. You can see this in male-dominated groups like the military or football teams -- there’s a clear distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them.’”

While in this study it might appear that women would trust more people than men – because women trusted both people at Ohio State and at a university in which they had a friend – in everyday life the results suggest women would have a smaller circle of trusted people, Brewer said.

That’s because women’s in-groups would be based on interpersonal connections, while men are more likely to embrace people from a large, symbolic group, even if they don’t have close personal relationships with them.

While it may seem surprising that the participants would trust someone based simply on the fact that they attended the same university – or even just attended a university in which they knew someone – that’s a part of American culture, Brewer said.

“At least in our culture, it doesn’t take much to activate an initial trust,” she said.

“Americans are willing to trust others at first until they are proved wrong. When we talked to participants after the study they would actually say things like ‘Someone from Ohio State wouldn’t let me down.’ That level of trust is important in our society because it allow us to do business with each other and develop new relationships.”

That level of trust and openness is not found in every culture. In a previous study, Brewer and her colleagues found that people in Japan were, overall, more like the women in this study: they tended to reserve trust for people in which they had some interpersonal connection. They were not as willing to trust people simply based on a shared group membership.

“It is an important aspect of our culture that we are willing to invest that initial trust without a lot to base it on,” Brewer said.

This study, and the previous one comparing Japanese and Americans, were supported by the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Marilynn Brewer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>