Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low-power people are more trusting in social exchange.

Schilke et al. make observations suggestion that low-power individuals want high-power people they interact with to be trustworthy, and act according to that desire:
How does lacking vs. possessing power in a social exchange affect people’s trust in their exchange partner? An answer to this question has broad implications for a number of exchange settings in which dependence plays an important role. Here, we report on a series of experiments in which we manipulated participants’ power position in terms of structural dependence and observed their trust perceptions and behaviors. Over a variety of different experimental paradigms and measures, we find that more powerful actors place less trust in others than less powerful actors do. Our results contradict predictions by rational actor models, which assume that low-power individuals are able to anticipate that a more powerful exchange partner will place little value on the relationship with them, thus tends to behave opportunistically, and consequently cannot be trusted. Conversely, our results support predictions by motivated cognition theory, which posits that low-power individuals want their exchange partner to be trustworthy and then act according to that desire. Mediation analyses show that, consistent with the motivated cognition account, having low power increases individuals’ hope and, in turn, their perceptions of their exchange partners’ benevolence, which ultimately leads them to trust.

1 comment:

  1. There are gender implications, and the data ought to be analyzed by gender if they were not. Women often have lower power, have fewer negotiating resources, and they need to trust the high-power people. But this may not be entirely misplaced. If women succeed in evoking pity and sympathy, the higher-power people may indeed protect their interests to some extent.