Category-based learning about deviant outgroup members hinders performance in trust decision making

Maïka Telga*, Soledad de Lemus, Elena Cañadas, Rosa Rodríguez-Bailón, Juan Lupiáñez

*Corresponding author for this work

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The present research examines whether individuation and categorization processes influence trust decisions about strangers at first and across repeated interactions. In a partial replication of the study reported by Cañadas et al. (2015), participants played an adaptation of the multi-round trust game paradigm and had to decide whether or not to cooperate with unknown partners. Gender (Study 1a) and ethnicity (Studies 1b, 2, and 3) served to create distinct social categories among the game partners, whose reciprocation rates were manipulated at group and individual levels. At the group level, two social groups (i.e., ingroup vs. outgroup) were associated with opposite reciprocation rates (i.e., high vs. low reciprocation rate). At the individual level, consistency was manipulated by altering the reciprocation rate of one out of four members of each social group. That is, there was one inconsistent individual in each group showing a pattern of reciprocation opposite to the group reciprocation rate. Our data, contrary to Cañadas et al.'s (2015) findings, suggested that ingroup partners were individuated given that participants made their decisions to cooperate with the trustees according to their individual reciprocation rate and independently of the group reciprocation rate. In contrast, decisions about outgroup partners (i.e., men in Study 1a and Blacks in Studies 1b, 2, and 3) were affected by category-based thinking. At the same time, in comparison with ingroup, greater cooperation was observed with ethnic outgroups but not with gender outgroups. The consistency of our results with the previous literature on social categorization and across the three experiments seems to indicate they are reliable, supporting the hypothesis that categorization and individuation processes guide trust decision-making, promoting individuation mainly for ingroup and categorization among outgroup members.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1008
    Number of pages18
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2018


    • Categorization
    • Individuation
    • Motivation
    • Outgroup homogeneity
    • Trust


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