Self-protection motives have been documented to influence a range of intergroup processes, including biased categorization of racially ambiguous targets as out-group members and a heightened ability to discriminate in-group from out-group members. In this work, the influence of self-protective states is extended to interpersonal processes. Specifically, in two experiments we demonstrate that activating self-protection motives (relative to a control experience) leads to more accurate detection of facial cues associated with trustworthiness. In Experiment 1, participants with salient self-protection concerns were better able to distinguish between faces pre-rated as appearing high and low in trustworthiness. In Experiment 2, we used dynamic cues associated with trustworthiness and found that participants with active self-protection goals more accurately distinguished genuine from false smiles. These results are among the first to document the influence of self-protection motives on interpersonal judgments, thereby expanding the scope and focus of fundamental motives research.
Social Psychological and Personality Sciencevol.
6, (August 01, 2015):