This Trait Can Tell You Who’s Really Trustworthy

This Trait Can Tell You Who’s Really Trustworthy

When it comes to predicting who is most likely to act in a trustworthy manner, one of the most important factors is the anticipation of guilt, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers identify a trait predictor of trustworthy intentions and behavior. They also provide practical advice for deciding in whom we should place our trust.

Among the study’s key findings: a person’s tendency to anticipate feeling guilty, which the researchers call “guilt-proneness,” is the strongest predictor of how trustworthy that person is—more so than a variety of other personality traits (extraversion, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness).

Guilt-proneness differs from guilt. Whereas guilt elicits reparative behavior following a transgression, guilt-proneness reflects the anticipation of guilt over wrongdoing and causes people to avoid transgressing in the first place. People who rank high in guilt-proneness feel a greater sense of interpersonal responsibility when they are entrusted, and as such, are less likely to exploit the trust others place in them.

In a series of six studies, the researchers set up economic games and surveys to measure trustworthy behavior and intentions. Individuals who scored high in the personality trait of guilt-proneness returned more money to others than individuals who scored low in guilt-proneness.

Furthermore, in one experiment, individuals who were primed to behave responsibly as a result of reading a code of conduct were more likely to return money to others than the individuals who read a passage about the importance of looking out for themselves.

“Trust and trustworthiness are critical for effective relationships and effective organizations,” the researchers say. “Individuals and institutions incur high costs when trust is misplaced, but people can mitigate these costs by engaging in relationships with individuals who are trustworthy. Our findings extend the substantial literature on trust by deepening our understanding of trustworthiness: When deciding in whom to place trust, trust the guilt-prone.”


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


The study is unusual in that—unlike existing trust research which focuses on what makes people trust each other—this study offers insight into who is worthy of that trust.

“Our research suggests that if you want your employees to be worthy of trust,” says Levine, “make sure they feel personally responsible for their behavior and that they expect to feel guilty about wrongdoing.”

Source: Sandra Jones for the University of Chicago

Related Books

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=trusting;maxresults=3}

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

The Day Of Reckoning Has Come For The GOP
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
The Republican party is no longer a pro-America political party. It is an illegitimate pseudo-political party full of radicals and reactionaries whose stated goal is to disrupt, destabilize, and…
Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…