Purdue University Graduate School
Hildebrand PhD 2022_Formatted.pdf (526.49 kB)

The Role of Trust in Reducing Confrontation-Related Social Costs

Download (526.49 kB)
posted on 2022-07-26, 19:39 authored by Laura K HildebrandLaura K Hildebrand


Interpersonal confrontations are a powerful prejudice reduction strategy. However, they often come with social costs, or negative interpersonal consequences, for the confronter (e.g., dislike; Czopp et al., 2006). Across three studies, the present research examines whether and how interpersonal trust reduces the social costs typically associated with confrontation. Study 1 showed that the more participants trusted their confronter, the less negative their evaluations of their partner. Negative other-directed affect mediated this effect. Study 2 provided causal evidence that trust buffered confrontation’s social costs: Participants who underwent a trust-building exercise with their confronter reported fewer social costs than participants who did not. Finally, Study 3 showed that the effect of trust on social costs extends to an ecologically valid context: Confrontees reported fewer social costs in dyads with greater pre-existing trust (i.e., friends) than dyads with less pre-existing trust (i.e., strangers). The effect of trust on social costs was again mediated by negative other-directed affect. Overall, the present research integrates the confrontation and close relationship literatures to provide theoretically-novel and practically-important insight on how to reduce confrontation-related social costs.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Margo J. Monteith

Additional Committee Member 2

Kipling D. Williams

Additional Committee Member 3

Ximena B. Arriaga

Additional Committee Member 4

Yk Hei F. Kung

Usage metrics



    Ref. manager