The Role of Trust in Reducing Confrontation-Related Social Costs
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.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Psychological Sciences
- West Lafayette