Whereas guilt elicits reparative behavior following a transgression, guilt-proneness reflects the anticipation of guilt.
Washington: Turns out, you are more trustworthy if you are prone to feeling guilty.
New research from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business found that when it comes to predicting who is most likely to act in a trustworthy manner, one of the most important factors is the anticipation of guilt.
The researchers identified a trait which could predict trustworthy intentions and behavior.
The study found that a person's tendency to anticipate feeling guilty, which the researchers call "guilt-proneness," is the strongest predictor of how trustworthy that person is.
Guilt-proneness differs from guilt. Whereas guilt elicits reparative behavior following a transgression, guilt-proneness reflects the anticipation of guilt over wrongdoing and causes people to avoid transgressing in the first place.
People who rank high in guilt-proneness feel a greater sense of interpersonal responsibility when they are entrusted and as such, and are less likely to exploit the trust.
In a series of six studies, the researchers set up economic games and surveys to measure trustworthy behavior and intentions.
Individuals who scored high in the personality trait of guilt-proneness returned more money to others than individuals who scored low in guilt-proneness.
"Trust and trustworthiness are critical for effective relationships and effective organizations. Our findings extend the substantial literature on trust by deepening our understanding of trustworthiness: When deciding in whom to place trust, trust the guilt-prone," said researchers.
The full findings are present in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.