In social dilemmas, equality is an important coordination rule. When equality is violated, people seek explanations. In Experiment 1, the authors assessed dispositional trust and found that especially high trusters were affected by the given explanation. High trusters reacted less negatively to external than internal explanations. Experiment 2, using a manipulation of trust in others, revealed a similar pattern across a wider range of negative emotions. In Experiment 3, the authors only induced high trust and showed that when the external explanation turned out to be a lie, emotional and retributive reactions became more negative. Moreover, attribution information did not influence reactions when participants realized that the information was dishonest.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Stouten, J., de Cremer, D., & van Dijk, E. (2006). Violating Equality in Social Dilemmas: Emotional and Retributive Reactions as a Function of Trust, Attribution, and Honesty. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(7), 894–906. doi:10.1177/0146167206287538