Purpose: The study aimed at examining how observing a person showing no trust or some trust, in interaction framed as a trust or an investment, influences two variables: anticipated dissatisfaction from cooperating with the trustor and willingness to avoid such a person in future cooperative tasks. Additionally, the perception of the trustor and anticipated feelings in the role of the trustee were analyzed.
Methodology: A scenario describing the trust game framed as trust or investment was used in the study. Participants (N = 166) were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions: 2 (amount sent in the game: zero vs. one-tenth of the endowment) x 2 (game framing: trust vs. investment) and after reading the scenario made three types of evaluations: (1) their feelings in the position of the trustee from the scenario; (2) the trustor’s sociability, morality, and competence and (3) anticipated dissatisfaction from cooperating with the trustor in the future, and finally (4) willingness to avoid the trustor in future interactions.
Results: Interaction effects were found for evaluations of anticipated dissatisfaction from cooperating with the trustor and willingness to avoid the trustor in future interactions. Observing sending nothing in the trust game framed as trust, rather than investment, resulted in stronger anticipated dissatisfaction from cooperating in the future with the trustor, and stronger willingness to avoid such a person as a partner for cooperation. Moreover, independent of the framing of the game, in condition of no trust, participants reported stronger negative feeling when imagining themselves in the role of the trustee and perceived the trustor as less sociable and less competent. Surprisingly, the perception of trustor’s morality did not differ across the conditions.
Conclusions: Observing distrust, particularly when the interaction is interpreted in social terms as trust, rather than in economic ones as non-investing, with all other aspects of the situation the same, results in different attitude towards the distrustor on the side of observers. Distrust, in comparison to just non-investing, evokes in observers a stronger propensity to avoid such the distrustor as a partner for cooperation and lowers their anticipated satisfaction from cooperation with him/her.