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I May Not Agree With You, but I Trust You: Caring About Social Issues Signals Integrity
Keywords: Trust; Morality; Cooperation; Experiments
Abstract: What characteristics of an individual signal trustworthiness to others? I propose that individuals who care about contentious social issues signal to observers that they have integrity and thus can be trusted. Critically, this signal conveys trustworthiness whether or not the target and the observer hold the same view on the issue. Five studies (N=3817) demonstrate the predicted effect of caring on integrity-based trust (Studies 1, 2, 3a-b, & 4)—even in cases of strong disagreement—across a variety of issues (Study 1) and when using behavioral outcomes with real stakes (Studies 3a-b). This effect largely results from a perception of low-caring targets as particularly untrustworthy (Study 2). Additionally, observers trusted targets with staunchly opposing views about an issue even though they simultaneously disliked them (Study 4). These findings have important implications for how people form impressions of others and speak to potential interventions to help mitigate the growing ideological divide.