Feelings of distrust alert people not to take information at face value, which may influence their reasoning strategy. Using the Wason (1960) rule identification task, we tested whether chronic and temporary distrust increase the use of negative hypothesis testing strategies suited to falsify one's own initial hunch. In Study 1, participants who were low in dispositional trust were more likely to engage in negative hypothesis testing than participants high in dispositional trust. In Study 2, trust and distrust were induced through an alleged person-memory task. Paralleling the effects of chronic distrust, participants exposed to a single distrust-eliciting face were 3 times as likely to engage in negative hypothesis testing as participants exposed to a trust-eliciting face. In both studies, distrust increased negative hypothesis testing, which was associated with better performance on the Wason task. In contrast, participants' initial rule generation was not consistently affected by distrust. These findings provide first evidence that distrust can influence which reasoning strategy people adopt.
- Confirmation bias
- Negative testing