The neuroscience of trust violation: Differential activation of the default mode network in ability, benevolence and integrity breaches
Trust is widely regarded as being foundational in workplace relationships. The violation of interpersonal trust results in a range of negative affective, cognitive and behavioural consequences for the injured party. However, research has yet to isolate the specific neural areas and processes activated when different types of interpersonal trust are breached. Using electroencephalogram with 68 participants, we identified the effects of three distinct types of trust violations—ability violation, integrity violation and benevolence violations—on electrical brain activity. Our findings indicate that trust violations are processed in social cognitive-related brain areas. Specifically, our results identify the significance of the default mode network (DMN), relevant to the processing of social information, in trust violation and further isolated distinct activity for ability, integrity and benevolence trust violation, with integrity violations demonstrating the greatest reaction in the DMN. Benevolence violations generated the next greatest reaction but were not significantly different from the ability violations. This potential distinction may be worth further investigation in future research. Our findings highlight the potential importance of the DMN in processing cues regarding the trustworthiness of others and the distinctiveness of the processing of violation cues of the three facets of trustworthiness.
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
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