In light of public examples of false denials, it is unsurprising that people’s beliefs about denials often are negative. However, inconsistent with such beliefs, denials often are sincere, and can facilitate trust repair. To illuminate this mismatch, we advance a framework based on Construal Level Theory, to explain how people may make a forecasting error when predicting their responses to denials. In two experimental studies, we reveal that people who actually received a denial after a possible transgression (a) were less suspicious, and experienced greater trust, and (b) displayed more trusting behavior than people who imagined this. These results suggest that people underestimate the effectiveness of denials in the reconciliation process.

Denials, forecasting error, suspicion, trust, trust repair,
Journal of Trust Research
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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Reinders Folmer, C.P, de Cremer, D, Wubben, M.J.J, & van Dijke, M.H. (2020). We can’t go on together with suspicious minds: Forecasting errors in evaluating the appreciation of denials. Journal of Trust Research. doi:10.1080/21515581.2020.1738944