Detecting Trustworthiness, Opening Your Mind?

Yaacov Schul

Yaacov Schul

-*Does mistrust increases willingness to consider new information, or “open-mindedness”?

When people mistrust information, they are more likely to consider alternative information and interpretations,  according to Hebrew University’s Yaacov Schul and Ruth Mayo, with Eugene Burnstein of University of Michigan.

Ruth Mayo

Ruth Mayo

Likewise, Ann-Christin Posten and Thomas Mussweiler of Universität zu Köln noted that “distrust frees your mind” by leading people to use non-routine cognitive strategies.”

Eugene Burnstein

Eugene Burnstein

Posten and Mussweiler reported that when volunteers participated in an “untrustworthy” interaction, they later provided less stereotypic evaluations of others in an unrelated task.

Ann-Christin Posten

Ann-Christin Posten

The research team replicated this effect when they influence volunteers’ expectations of others by “priming” participants with preliminary information that elicited stereotypes.

When people distrust information and interactions, they focus on dissimilarities and discrepancies,  which enables people to more carefully attend to individual differences that disprove stereotypes, according to Posten and Mussweiler.

Thomas Mussweiler

Thomas Mussweiler

Although trust may feel better, distrust can lead to more mindful observation, and reduced stereotyping.

-*How do people determine trustworthiness?

Princeton’s Alexander Todorov and Sean G. Baron with Nikolaas Oosterhof of Dartmouth presented volunteers computer model-generated faces  representing a range of trustworthiness while participants’ brains were scanned with fMRI.

Alexander Todorov

Alexander Todorov

Specific brain areas, the right amygdala and left and right putamen, became more active when participants’ viewed less trustworthy faces.

Sean Baron

Sean Baron

Faces judged most trustworthy and most untrustworthy faces were associated with greater brain activity in the left amygdala.
In contrast, moderately trustworthy faces evoked strongest responses in the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus areas.

Nikolaas Oosterhof

Nikolaas Oosterhof

These findings pinpoint brain areas that lead to inferences of trust and distrust, and lead to relaxed or vigilant information processing strategies.

-*How do you determine trustworthiness for information and for people?
-*What helps you minimized stereotyped judgments?

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