Trust is for the strong: How health status may influence generalized and personalized trust


In the trust-health relationship, how trusting other people in society may promote good health is a topic often examined. However, the other direction of influence – how health may affect trust – has not been well explored. In order to investigate this possible effect, we employed Bayesian Mindsponge Framework (BMF) analytics to go deeper into the information processing mechanisms underlying the expressions of trust. Conducting Bayesian analysis on a dataset of 1237 residents from Cali, Colombia, we found that general health status is positively associated with generalized trust, but recent experiences of illnesses/injuries have a negative moderating effect. Personalized trust is largely unchanged across different general health conditions, but the trust level becomes higher with recent experiences of illnesses/injuries. Psychophysiological mechanisms of increasing information filtering intensity toward unfamiliar sources during a vulnerable state of health is a plausible explanation of found patterns in generalized trust. Because established personal relationships are reinforced information channels, personalized trust is not affected as much. Rather, the results suggest that people may rely even more on loved ones when they are in bad health conditions. This exploratory study shows that the trust-health relationship can be examined from a different angle that may provide new insights.

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