High emotion contributes to great opera. It does not, however, serve us well when making judgments about others. This is the argument advanced in "Feeling and Believing: The Influence of Emotion on Trust," a new paper by Maurice E. Schweitzer, Wharton professor of operations and information management, and Jennifer Dunn, a PhD student in the department.
The two researchers conducted five experiments to determine the influence of emotional states -- happiness, gratitude, anger, and guilt -- on trust. Each experiment confirmed that incidental emotions (emotions from one situation that influence judgment in a following, unrelated situation) affect how willing we are to trust others. For example, our anger over a speeding ticket is likely to affect how we judge someone later in the day. The researchers conclude that despite feeling we are rational beings who make clear, lucid judgments, in reality we all walk around in a sea of emotions that are likely to influence how we act in both business and social contexts.
The article, recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, stems from Schweitzer's ongoing interest in negotiation, where trust plays a critical role.
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