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Effects of Emotional Small Talk Before A Virtual Exchange On Building Swift Trust

As virtual exchanges become increasingly prevalent, building swift trust is crucial as exchange partners manage the uncertainty inherent in such exchanges (Kong & Yao, 2021). However, research on swift trust (Meyerson et al., 1996) has largely focused on cognitive rather than socio-emotional factors/mechanisms (Blomqvist & Cook, 2018). Nonetheless, emotions can trigger swift trust building at zero acquaintance (Belkin & Rothman, 2017). We argue that small talk expressing incidental emotions that are unrelated to the immediate context but ubiquitous in daily life (Lerner & Keltner, 2001) can influence swift trust building. We address these gaps by examining how small talk verbally expressing various discrete emotions before a virtual business exchange shapes swift trust building. Across two experiments, we examined rapport, identification, and authenticity perceptions as the three mechanisms of interest leading to swift trust building. We compare small talk expressing positive emotions, including happiness and relief, and expressing negative emotions, including anger, worry, and disappointment, to neutral talk. Across studies, we show the consistent finding that trust can be built via rapport and identification through relieved (vs. neutral) talk and, counterintuitively, via authenticity perceptions through angry (vs. neutral) talk. Overall, our findings extend prior research and demonstrate the important role of various discrete emotions in swift trust building.

Laura Rees
Oregon State U.
United States

Dejun Tony Kong
U. of Colorado
United States

Liuba Belkin
Lehigh University
United States


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