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Dorrough, A. R., Bick, N., Bring, L., Brockers, C., Butz, C., & Schneider, I. K. (2022). Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019). Collabra: Psychology, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.31036 Social Psychology Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) a b c 1 2 1 1 1 1 Angela R. Dorrough , Nathalie Bick , Lukas Bring , Caroline Brockers , Charlotte Butz , Iris K. Schneider 1 2 Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, University of Hagen, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany Keywords: trust, trustworthiness, COVID-19, social perception, replication, open data, open materials, preregistered https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.31036 Collabra: Psychology Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2022 With three convenient samples (n = 1,087) and one sample representative for the German population in terms of age and gender (n = 210), we replicate research by Zlatev (2019) showing that perceived benevolence-based and perceived integrity-based trustworthiness increase with a target’s level of caring about a social issue. We show that these results generalize to various issues ranging from environmental issues (i.e., installation of wind turbines in the North Sea) to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., online teaching to prevent the spread of the virus). Furthermore, we provide initial behavioral evidence for this effect by showing that transfers in a trust game increase with a target’s caring about a social issue. All results are robust for age, gender, and social issue. To provide best estimates for the effect of a target’s level of caring on perceived trustworthiness, we report results of three mini meta-analyses including our findings as well as the findings of the original research. Policy implications are discussed. In every-day life, much is a matter of trust – selecting our cination opponents than supporters (Murphy et al., 2021). child’s day care center, voting for a certain political party, Trust depends on beliefs of trustworthiness and uncon- and forming friendships. Given this relevance, it is not sur- ditional kindness (Ashraf et al., 2006). Due to its relevance, prising that a wealth of research has dealt with the ques- it is important to learn more about who we trust and what tion of who and when people trust (see De Jong et al., 2016; makes someone a trustworthy target. Zlatev (2019) showed Dunning et al., 2019; Thielmann et al., 2020; van den Akker that one factor that influences whether people are per- et al., 2020 for recent meta-analyses and reviews). The cur- ceived to be trustworthy is the extent to which someone rent (2019-today) COVID-19 pandemic has made the ques- cares about an issue. Irrespective of agreement on an issue, tion of trust more important than ever. In Germany, virol- people who care more are rated higher on two important ogist Prof. Christian Drosten was declared a figure of trust dimensions of trustworthiness: integrity-based (i.e., a tar- (Kupferschmidt, 2020). In March 2021, the former German get’s honesty or virtuousness) and benevolence-based (i.e., chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel was advised to ask for a vote a target’s kindness or positive intentions) trustworthiness. of trust following several instances of allegedly poor crisis In addition, Zlatev’s (2019) work provides initial behavioral management (Deutsche Welle, 2021). evidence for the effects by showing that participants relied Empirical research conducted after the outbreak of more on information provided by a high caring vs. low car- COVID-19 suggests that trust can even save lives. With two ing target and indicated that they would trust high caring studies conducted in Germany, for example, Dohle and col- targets more in a trust game. leagues (Dohle et al., 2020) show that trust in politics and We extend these findings in five important ways: First, science predicted the acceptance and adoption of behav- the original work included only highly politically debated ioral measures intended to combat the spread of the virus. social issues that were rather abstract to participants. For Similarly, Jovančević and Milićević (2020) show that general instance, capital punishment is a controversial issue, but trust in other people is positively associated with preventive few people have direct experience in that area. To investi- behavior. Furthermore, people with lower levels of trust in gate whether the effects generalize to issues that are more reputable sources of information were more likely to be vac- directly relevant to the general audience, we include social a Richard-Strauss-Str. 2, 50931 Köln, Germany, email@example.com https://soccco.uni-koeln.de/angela-dorrough b https://www.fernuni-hagen.de/forschung/schwerpunkte/d2l2/team/nathalie.bick.shtml c https://irisschneider.nl/ Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) issues with varying degrees of perceived controversy (e.g., Study 1 freedom of speech, human cloning) and issues related to Method the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., hand washing, privileges for the vaccinated), that have direct consequences for the in- Study 1 is a direct replication of Study 2 by Zlatev (2019) dividuals on a practical level. Second, to further extend the except for the following changes: In the original study, generalization of the effect, and in contrast to the original which was conducted with a US sample, a target’s caring research, we use a sample representative for (German) soci- and opinion concerning the social issue of capital punish- ety in terms of age and gender. Third, we include an incen- ment was presented. Since capital punishment is no longer tivized behavioral standard measure of trust. Specifically, applied in Germany, we replaced it with the issue of abor- we measured participants’ transfers in a trust game toward tion. This issue produced similar results as capital punish- targets that had expressed varying degrees of caring about ment in Study 1 by Zlatev and is socially relevant and highly the installation of wind turbines in the North Sea. Fourth, debated in Germany (Wuermeling, 2020; see also Table S1 to provide the best estimates of the effects, we also pre- in the SOM for actual and perceived controversy of this and sent three mini meta-analyses based on both the studies re- all other social issues presented in this article). Second, ported in Zlatev (2019) and the studies reported here. Fi- rather than presenting a target with the name “Jamie”, we nally, with participant caring and perceived controversy of used the neutral framing “Person A”, since names are as- an issue, we report preliminary results on potential moder- sociated with different personal characteristics that may be ating effects. related to trustworthiness (e.g., warmth; Nett et al., 2019) – this becomes particularly relevant when presenting mul- Overview of Studies tiple targets (see Studies 2-4 of this project). Participants. The smaller of the two relevant effects re- We conducted four studies (total N = 1,297) in Germany. ported in Study 2 by Zlatev (2019; ß/r = .11 for perceived Study 1 serves as a direct replication of Study 2 by Zlatev benevolence-based trustworthiness) was used as a basis for (2019), Studies 2-4 are conceptual replications and exten- the a priori power analysis in G*Power (Faul et al., 2007). sions. In Studies 1-3, we used convenient samples with a Assuming a t-test (difference between independent groups; high percentage of students. For Study 4 we recruited a one-tailed) and a power of 0.80, a sample size of N = 517 sample representative for the German population in terms 1 was determined and pre-registered. We recruited partici- of age and gender. All sample sizes were determined a pri- pants from social networks through posts on social media ori, and all studies reported in the following have a power and a university internal notice board as well as via an email of > 80% to detect the effects of target’s caring about a so- distribution list of the University of Cologne. We restricted cial issue on perceived benevolence-based and perceived in- participation to people who were at least 18 years of age tegrity-based trustworthiness observed in Study 2 by Zlatev and had sufficient knowledge of German. A total of 521 par- (2019). All studies were pre-registered (Study 1: ticipants completed the study. According to the participant https://osf.io/qha3e; Study 2: https://osf.io/c25s7; Study 3: code (combination of letters and numbers), eight partici- https://osf.io/6w9dj; Study 4: https://osf.io/bdv8u) and all pants took part twice – in such cases, we excluded the sec- materials, data, and analyses scripts are available ond participation, resulting in N = 513 participants (377 fe- (https://osf.io/zagkd). For Study 4, which was a replication male, 130 male, 4 non-binary, 2 not specified; 18-75 years and extension of the other studies, we received ethical ap- of age). Data collection took place in June 2020. Students proval from the ethical committee of the University of of the University of Cologne received course credit (0.25 Cologne. All studies were programmed in Qualtrics hours) for participation. In addition, all participants had the (Qualtrics, Provo, UT). We report all excluded observations, opportunity to take part in a raffle for multiple Amazon gift independent variables/manipulations, and dependent vari- cards (3x 10€; 1x 20€). ables/measures. For all studies, we expected to replicate the Procedure. Following a short definition of abortion taken original findings that perceived integrity-based trustwor- from a German dictionary (i.e., Duden, n.d.), and as in Study thiness and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness 2 by Zlatev (2019), participants received information about increase with a target’s level of caring about a social issue. one hypothetical target’s thoughts on a social issue (i.e., Furthermore, for Study 4 we expected that transfer behav- abortion). Participants were told that Person A thinks abor- ior in the trust game increases with perceived trustworthi- tion should be either legal or illegal. Participants were then ness of the target (trustee). We specified an additional hy- told, “On a scale of 1 (caring very little) to 100 (caring very pothesis for trust game beliefs which is reported in SOM B much), Person A thinks the issue of abortion is a ___.” Par- together with the respective findings. Hypotheses and re- ticipants were then shown a randomly generated number sults for perceived controversy of a social issue are reported between 1 and 100 (see SOM A1 for additional information in the main paper in a separate section on moderators. As on the selection of targets). Accompanying this number was pre-registered, we report results of one-sided tests for di- a description of what it represented: “In other words, Per- rectional hypotheses and two-sided tests for exploratory son A cares [very little/a little/moderately/quite a bit/very analyses. 1 Please note that, in the pre-registration of this study, we referred to an original effect size of d = .11 rather than ß = 0.11 due to a copying error. Collabra: Psychology 2 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Table 1. OLS regressions predicting integrity-based trustworthiness (Model 1) and benevolence-based trustworthiness (Model 2) by target caring about a social issue and participant-target agreement in Study 1. (Model 1) (Model 2) Integrity-based 95% CI Benevolence-based 95% CI trustworthiness trustworthiness *** *** Target caring 0.31 (8.15) [0.23, 0.38] 0.19 (5.01) [0.12, 0.26] *** *** Agreement 0.41 (10.82) [0.33, 0.48] 0.47 (12.39) [0.40, 0.54] Observations/ 513 513 Participants R 0.276 0.268 *** Note. The table reports standardized beta-coefficients (all variables z-standardized), t-statistics in parentheses, and 95% CIs for beta, p < .001. much] about this issue.” The number determined which la- target on the social issue. Replicating the original results bel was displayed: 1 to 20 was “very little,” 21 to 40 was “a by Zlatev (2019), we find that, irrespective of participant- little,” 41 to 60 was “moderately,” 61 to 80 was “quite a bit,” target agreement, both dimensions of perceived trustwor- and 81 to 100 was “very much.” After seeing this descrip- thiness increase with a target’s level of caring about a so- tion, participants answered questions about Person A’s in- cial issue (i.e., abortion). In addition, also replicating the tegrity and benevolence (see Measures for the exact word- original findings, a main effect of agreement between target ing of these questions). Participants then answered whether and participant on the social issue can be observed for both they themselves thought abortion should be legal or illegal dimensions. As a robustness check, we reran both models as well as how strongly they cared about the issue (using a additionally controlling for participant age and gender. All 5-point Likert-type scale from very little to very much). If conclusions remain unchanged in these analyses (for the both the participant and the target thought the issue should detailed analyses, see SOM Table S2). be legal or both thought the issue should be illegal, then Discussion that was coded as agreement. Finally, participants indicated how controversial they perceived the issue of abortion to be Study 1 replicates the original findings by Zlatev (2019) in society (1 = not at all controversial; 10 = very controver- using the issue of abortion (rather than capital punishment) sial) for exploratory purposes. and a German sample and finds that perceived integrity- Measures. Perceived integrity-based trustworthiness was based and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness of measured using a German translation of three items (M = a target increase with a target’s level of caring about a social 4.29, SD = 1.43, α = .78) taken from Zlatev (2019): “This issue. However, abortion, like the other social issues in- person has a great deal of integrity,” “I can trust this per- cluded in the original research by Zlatev (2019), arguably son’s word,” and “This person cares about honesty and is a highly debated social issue with which few participants truth.” Perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness was would have direct experience. Thus, with Study 2 we go a measured using a German translation of three items (M = step further by also including social issues that are asso- 4.01, SD = 1.48, α = .79; correlation between perceived in- ciated with consequences for the individual and are less tegrity- and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness: strongly politically debated (e.g., freedom of speech). r = .67) taken from Zlatev (2019): “This person is kind”, “This person is nice” and “This person is selfish” (reverse- Study 2 coded). All items used a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = Method strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree). At the end of the questionnaire, we assessed demograph- Study 2 is an extension of Study 1 using a variety of social ics (i.e., age, gender) and participants had the opportunity issues (i.e., abortion, freedom of speech, marijuana con- to comment on the study. Finally, participants created a sumption, human cloning, and euthanasia) varied within participant code that allowed us to check if someone took participants. Each social issue was presented with a differ- part in more than one of the Studies 1-3 (for more informa- ent target (Person A-E) and participants were informed that tion see SOM B1). they were always presented with a new person. The social issue of abortion was always presented first. This gave us Results the opportunity to examine the first trial only as a direct replication of Study 1. As pre-registered and in accordance with Zlatev (2019), Participants. In addition to the generalizability of the we ran two linear regression models predicting perceived previous findings, a potential interaction with perceived integrity-based trustworthiness (Table 1, Model 1) and per- controversy was tested in Study 2. For the power analysis, ceived benevolence-based trustworthiness (Table 1, Model a repeated measurement ANOVA was assumed as the clos- 2) by a target’s level of caring about a social issue (1-100) est approximation for the regression analyses with the clus- and agreement (yes = 1 vs. no = 0) between participant and Collabra: Psychology 3 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Table 2. Clustered OLS regressions predicting perceived integrity-based trustworthiness (Model 3) and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness (Model 4) by target caring about a social issue and participant-target agreement in Study 2. (Model 3) (Model 4) Integrity-based 95% CI Benevolence-based 95% CI trustworthiness trustworthiness *** *** Target caring 0.17 (6.52) [0.12, 0.22] 0.11 (4.12) [0.06, 0.16] *** *** Agreement 0.37 (13.41) [0.32, 0.43] 0. 43 (15.46) [0.37, 0.48] Observations/ 1415/283 1415/283 Participants R 0.166 0.195 *** Note. The table reports standardized beta-coefficients (all variables z-standardized), t-statistics in parentheses, and 95% CIs for beta, p < .001. ter correction we intended to run. Assuming a small inter- 0.137, p = .005; perceived benevolence-based trustworthi- action effect of f = .10 and a power of 0.80, a sample size of N ness: ß = 0.110, p = .022), thus replicating the finding of = 280 was determined and pre-registered. With this sample Study 1. All conclusions remain unchanged when control- size, the power for detecting the original effects of target ling for participant age and gender as well as social issue us- caring about a social issue on perceived integrity-based and ing dummy variables (see SOM Table S2). perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness was > 0.99. Discussion We recruited participants from social networks and through posts on social media. We used the same compensation Study 2 replicates the findings by Zlatev (2019) as well methods as in Study 1. A total of 284 participants completed as our findings in Study 1. We show that the effects of a the study. According to the participant code, one partici- target’s caring about a social issue on perceived integrity- pant took part twice. Thus, we excluded the second partic- based and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness ipation, resulting in N = 283 participants (196 female, 87 generalize to a set of various social issues that have impli- male; 18-81 years of age; 41.7% students). Data collection cations for society to different degrees. With Study 3, we go took place in June 2020. a step further and include social issues of immediate prac- Procedure and Measures. We used the same procedures tical interest that are relevant to every member of society and measures (perceived integrity-based trust: M = 3.75, SD in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas most of the is- = 1.22, α = 0.78; perceived benevolence-based trust: M = sues Zlatev (2019) used are applicable to a minority of peo- 3.82, SD = 1.25, α = 0.75; correlation between perceived in- ple, recommendations to combat the spread of COVID-19 tegrity- and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness: concern all members of society. Including these issues can r = .64) as in Study 1 with the exception that we used mul- strengthen conclusions concerning the generalizability of tiple trials/targets with different social issues. We assessed the effects (to social crises) and potentially identify bound- additional demographics for participants in Study 2 (i.e., ary conditions. In addition, examining the effects using level of education, current occupation, whether they stud- these issues can have implications for policy. ied psychology). Study 3 Results Method We again conducted two linear regression models pre- In Study 3, we aimed to test whether the effect of caring dicting perceived integrity-based trustworthiness (Table 2, on trustworthiness generalizes to a different domain, Model 3) and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness namely the recommendations of the German government to (Table 2, Model 4) by target caring about a social issue combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The five COVID-19 issues (1-100) and agreement (yes = 1 vs. no = 0) between partic- that we used for Study 3 (“regular and thorough handwash- ipant and target on the social issue. To account for depen- ing”, “closing borders”, “restrictions on visits to hospitals dencies in error terms due to the repeated measurement de- and nursing homes”, “digitalization of teaching at univer- sign, we clustered standard errors at the participant level. sities in the upcoming winter semester”, and “smartphone As can be seen from Table 2, both dimensions of perceived app for tracking chains of infection”) were selected based trustworthiness again significantly increase with a target’s on a pretest with 30 participants (16 female, 14 male; 19-50 level of caring about a social issue. Also, the effect of par- years of age) and represented restrictions or recommen- ticipant-target agreement on the social issue is again ob- dations that were publicly debated or in place at the time served in Study 2. When only analyzing the social issue of of data collection. More information on the pretest can be abortion, the effects of target caring about a social issue found in SOM A2. are still significant for both dimensions of perceived trust- Participants. The sample size for Study 3 was deter- worthiness (perceived integrity-based trustworthiness: ß = mined the same way as the sample size of Study 2. Partici- Collabra: Psychology 4 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Table 3. Clustered OLS regressions predicting perceived integrity-based trustworthiness (Model 5) and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness (Model 6) by target caring about a social issue and participant-target agreement in Study 3. (Model 5) (Model 6) Integrity-based 95% CI Benevolence-based 95% CI trustworthiness trustworthiness *** *** Target caring 0.19 (6.70) [0.14, 0.25] 0.21 (6.99) [0.15, 0.27] *** *** Agreement 0.17 (6.40) [0.12, 0.23] 0.24 (8.61) [0.18, 0.29] Observations/ 1455/291 1455/291 Participants R 0.066 0.098 *** Note. The table reports standardized beta-coefficients (all variables z-standardized), t-statistics in parentheses, and 95% CIs for beta, p < .001. pants were recruited and compensated as in Study 1. A total were rated higher on perceived integrity-based and per- of 294 participants completed the study. Three participants ceived benevolence-based trustworthiness. Thus, our stud- participated twice – again we excluded the second partic- ies show that the effect of a target’s level of caring about ipation, resulting in N = 291 participants (208 female, 80 a social issue on perceived trustworthiness (Studies 1-3; male, 3 non-binary; 18-65 years of age; 60% students). Data Zlatev, 2019) is a robust phenomenon and extends to issues collection took place from June to October 2020. that are directly and acutely relevant to people’s lives. Procedure and Measures. Study 3 followed the same Thus far, our studies were based only on hypothetical in- procedure as Study 2 but with recommendations to combat stances of perceived trustworthiness. Research shows that the spread of COVID-19 rather than general social issues. participants’ trust levels differ when presented with real Instead of using brief descriptions (see Studies 1-2), we in- targets and actual (financial) consequences of their actions troduced the COVID-19 related issues as “[issue] is one pos- (Holm & Nystedt, 2008). Thus, we now turn to the trust sible measure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic”. All is- game as a valid standard measure of trust toward non-close sues/targets were varied within participants and presented others (Weiss et al., 2020). A second potential limitation in randomized order. Instead of telling participants that the of the studies reported so far is that most of our samples target thinks an issue should be legal vs. illegal, we in- consisted primarily of students. One might argue that such formed them that the target is for vs. against the issue/rec- samples differ from the general population in that they are ommendation. The same measures as in the other two stud- younger and mostly female. Previous work shows that such ies (perceived integrity-based trustworthiness: M = 3.80, SD demographics might matter for (incentivized) trust (e.g., Buchan et al., 2008; Greiner & Zednik, 2019). Thus, in Study = 1.14, α = .83; perceived benevolence-based trustworthi- 4 we turn to a representative sample of German citizens. In ness: M = 3.92, SD = 1.14, α = .72; correlation between per- sum, Study 4 will give us more insight into the generaliz- ceived integrity- and perceived benevolence-based trust- ability of the effect over populations and situations. worthiness: r = .64) were used. Study 4 Results Method We conducted the same analyses as in Study 2 (Table 3). As displayed in Table 3, both dimensions of perceived With Study 4, which was conducted with a broader sam- trustworthiness again significantly increase with a target’s ple, we aimed to combine and extend Studies 1-3 by using level of caring about a social issue. In addition, we again general and COVID-19 related issues as well as real targets observed the effects of participant-target agreement on the (i.e., other participants of the study). In addition, the sec- social issue. All conclusions remain unchanged when con- ond aim was to provide behavioral evidence for the link be- trolling for participant age and gender as well as social issue tween a target’s level of caring about a social issue and trust using dummy variables (Table SOM S2). by using the trust game. Study 4 consisted of a pretest for selecting the issues (for more information see SOM A2) and Discussion two parts administered with a time lag of approximately one week. Using COVID-19 related issues, Study 3 shows that tar- Participants. Again, sample size estimation was con- gets that were presented as caring about recommendations ducted with G*Power (Faul et al., 2007). Again, assuming to combat the spread of the virus (e.g., closing of borders) a repeated measurement ANOVA and a power of .80, we Collabra: Psychology 5 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) aimed to collect a sample size of N = 260 (for 10 observa- observed at least once in Part 1 (see Zlatev, 2019 for com- tions per participant). Please note that the actual power parable results when using these five categories compared to detect the effect was >.99. Recruitment for this study to the continuous measure). Again, the general social is- was done via the panel provider Respondi (https://www.re- sues were presented first (in randomized order) followed by spondi.com/). For Part 1 of the study, 330 participants were the COVID-19 issues (again in randomized order; see also recruited, 210 of whom also completed Part 2 (106 female, SOM A1 on more details concerning the presentation of 104 male; 18-74 years of age). All dependent variables were targets). Following the trustworthiness ratings, participants measured in Part 2. As pre-registered, our analyses only in- answered four comprehension questions on the trust game, cluded participants who completed both parts. Data collec- which had to be answered correctly before proceeding with tion took place in March 2021. Participants received a fixed the study. Then, participants played the trust game with amount for their participation according to the guidelines 10 different targets (i.e., other participants of this study of Respondi. In addition, they received a bonus payment de- selected from Part 1; called “Person B1” to “Person B10”) pending on their behavior and the behavior of a randomly with all possible combinations of caring (1-5) * opinion (le- chosen other participant in the trust game. This bonus pay- gal vs. illegal) but only one social issue (i.e., installation of ment ranged between 0 and 1.80€ (M = 0.94€). More in- wind turbines in the North Sea). A short definition of wind formation concerning the bonus calculation is provided in turbines was taken from https://www.offshore-windindus- SOM A3. trie.de/windparks/deutschland. To avoid deception, 20 par- Procedure. Study 4 consisted of two parts: In Part 1, par- ticipants were recruited in the role of the trustee (two for ticipants indicated their own level of caring (very little / a each combination of opinion * caring) in Part 2 and were little / moderately / quite a bit / very much) about the 10 matched with the trustors after termination of the study pretested social issues. Five issues (general social issues) to calculate the bonus payments. Twelve of the invited concerned a broad spectrum of socially and environmen- trustees actually participated. As pre-registered, these par- tally relevant issues (i.e., freedom of speech, abortion, in- ticipants were excluded from the trust game analyses. stallation of wind turbines in the North Sea, euthanasia, Measures. For perceived integrity-based trustworthiness and human cloning). The remaining social issues concerned and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness, we used the current COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., hand washing in the the same measures as in Study 1-3 (perceived integrity- COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization of school and university based trust: M = 3.87, SD = 1.54, α = .92; perceived benev- teaching, home office due to the COVID-19 pandemic, re- olence-based trustworthiness: M = 4.01, SD = 1.27, α = strictions on visiting senior residences and hospitals, priv- .64; correlation between perceived integrity- and perceived ileges for vaccinated people). In addition to level of caring, benevolence-based trustworthiness: r = .77). Furthermore, participants’ opinion on each issue (general social issues: as a behavioral measure of trust, we used transfers in a trust “legal vs. illegal”, COVID-19 issues: “for vs. against”) was game. Specifically, participants were endowed with 3 Talers measured. The general social issues were presented first (in (i.e., the experimental currency; 1 Taler = 0.30 €) and could randomized order) followed by the COVID-19 issues (in ran- decide which amount (0, 1, 2 or 3 Talers) they wanted to domized order) to make sure that participants did not eval- transfer to the respective target. They were informed that uate all issues in the context of the pandemic (e.g., freedom the transfer was tripled by the experimenter and that the of speech during the pandemic). Finally, participants again target could transfer back any amount between 0 and the indicated how controversial they perceived the different so- received amount. For each target, they were also asked to cial issues to be in society and how familiar they were with estimate the expected return (between 0 and the amount them (1 = not at all familiar; 10 = very familiar). that the trustee received). In the following, we will only pre- In Part 2, participants rated 10 different targets (i.e., sent results for trust game transfers, results for trust game other participants of this study), named “Person A” to “Per- beliefs are provided in SOM B2. son J” (one for each social issue) on integrity-based and benevolence-based trustworthiness. For each of these tar- Results gets, participants viewed information about their thoughts on a social issue indicated in Part 1. Specifically, partici- We conducted the same analyses as in Study 3 (Table pants were provided with this target’s level of caring about 4, Models 7 & 8). For behavioral trust, we predicted trust the social issue as well as his or her opinion on the issue. game transfer (Table 4, Model 9) by a target’s level of caring For every social issue, observed combinations of caring and and participant-target agreement on the issue of wind tur- opinions were presented in such a way that each participant bines in an OLS regression with cluster corrected standard was presented with each caring level at least once. Please errors. As displayed in Table 4, we find the effect of target note that the range of caring varied between studies: In caring for all three outcomes. All conclusions remain un- Studies 1-3, participants were presented with caring levels changed when controlling for participant age and gender between 0 and 100. In Study 4, the level was restricted to as well as social issue using dummy variables (SOM Table 1 to 5 to increase the likelihood that most of the possible S2). The conclusions for behavioral trust remain unchanged combinations between options and levels of caring would be when excluding transfers of zero or using a binary outcome 2 Due to a copying error, for Study 4, the sample size was based on an effect of d = .11 rather than ß/r = .11. Collabra: Psychology 6 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Table 4. Clustered OLS regressions predicting integrity-based trustworthiness (Model 7), benevolence-based trustworthiness (Model 8), and trust game transfer (Model 9) by target caring and participant-target agreement in Study 4. (Model 7) (Model 8) (Model 9) Integrity-based 95% CI Benevolence- 95% CI Trust game 95% CI trustworthiness based transfer trustworthiness *** *** *** Target caring 0.16 (7.51) [0.12, 0.20] 0.13 (6.21) [0.09, 0.17] 0.17 (7.83) [0.13, 0.21] *** *** *** Agreement 0.24 (8.50) [0.19, 0.30] 0.27 (8.88) [0.21, 0.33] 0.20 (7.13) [0.14, 0.26] Observations/ 2100/210 2100/210 1980/198 Participants R 0.086 0.091 0.067 *** Note. The table reports standardized beta-coefficients, t-statistics in parentheses, and 95% CIs for beta, p < .001. (transfer yes vs. no). 0.08, p = .037; p > .227 for all other studies), whereas for per- ceived benevolence-based trustworthiness we did not ob- Moderator Analyses for all Reported Studies serve such an effect (all p > .072). Thus, due to the small effect size and its inconsistency, we cannot make strong In the studies reported in this article we included addi- claims concerning such a moderation until further studies tional measures for (in part exploratory) moderator analy- provide more evidence. ses. The results of these analyses are reported in what fol- Besides perceived controversy, we explored two addi- lows. tional potential moderators – perceived familiarity of an is- sue and participant caring – as indicators of the relevance Perceived Controversy of a topic for participants. The first potential moderator we examined is the per- Perceived Familiarity ceived controversy of a social issue in society. Research in other domains examining the effect of perceived attitudes In Study 4 we assessed perceived familiarity of a social or attitude involvement has shown that the type of topic issue as an additional potential moderator. In exploratory matters for the social judgment people make about the at- analyses, we predicted perceived integrity-based trustwor- titude holder. For example, discussing a controversial topic thiness and perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness provokes anxiety and discomfort and can result in negative by a target’s level of caring about a social issue, perceived evaluation of the interaction partner (Simons & Green, familiarity of the social issue as well as their interaction 2018). Furthermore, when people express their opinion on controlling for participant-target agreement on the social a social issue, controversy of the topic influences how they issue. These analyses did not reveal significant interaction are perceived on various dimensions (e.g., Beall et al., effects (both p > .075). 2017). For example, expressing strong feelings about a con- troversial topic makes people seem more competent than Participant Caring expressing strong feelings about trivial topics (Pillaud et al., 2018). Thus, it seems that the degree to which a topic is We ran additional exploratory analyses concerning a po- controversial matters for the degree to which caring about tential moderating effect of participant’s level of caring a topic and expressing an attitude about a topic influences about the social issue. For perceived integrity-based trust- perception of the interaction partner or the attitude holder. worthiness, we observed such an effect in three out of four Thus, for Studies 2-4, we pre-registered two additional studies (Study 2: ß = 0.10, p < .001; Study 3: ß = .08, p = .001; hypotheses – namely, that the effects of a target’s level Study 4: ß = .06, p = .006). For perceived benevolence-based of caring about a social issue on perceived integrity-based trustworthiness, the interaction also became significant in trustworthiness and perceived benevolence-based trust- three studies (Study 2: ß = 0.08; p < .001; Study 3: ß = 0.09; worthiness are moderated by perceived controversy of the p < .001; Study 4: ß = 0.05; p = .022). Although not signifi- social issue. To test these hypotheses, perceived trustwor- cant in all cases, it seems that the effect of a target’s level thiness was predicted by a target’s level of caring about of caring about a social issue on perceived trustworthiness a social issue, perceived controversy of the social issue as is increased for participants who care about the respective well as the interaction of perceived controversy of the social social issue themselves. issue with a target’s level of caring about a social issue Participant-Target Agreement controlling for participant-target agreement on the social issue. For Study 1, this analysis was conducted on an ex- In the original article, Zlatev (2019) reported rather in- ploratory basis. For perceived integrity-based trustworthi- consistent findings concerning the interaction between tar- ness, such an effect has been observed for Study 1 only (ß = Collabra: Psychology 7 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Figure 1. Pooled evidence for perceived integrity-based trustworthiness Note. Figure 1 reports all effect sizes (Zlatev’s and our studies) for a target’s level of caring about a social issue on perceived integrity-based trustworthiness, confidence inter- vals, standard errors, sample size, and the weight (based on the sample sizes) that has been given to the study in calculating the overall evidence. get-participant agreement on a social issue and a target’s sizes were pre-registered and all analyses were conducted level of caring about the social issue in predicting perceived in accordance with the pre-registered analysis plans. Im- trustworthiness. In contrast, we find that the influence of portantly, we included all the studies our research team a target’s level of caring about a social issue on perceived conducted, and, to the best of our knowledge, all original integrity-based trustworthiness (Study 1: ß = .09; p = .023; studies (Zlatev, 2019), on the effect of caring on perceived Study 2: ß = .14; p < .001; Study 3: ß = .17; p < .001; Study benevolence-based and integrity-based trustworthiness as 4: ß = .07; p = .002) and perceived benevolence-based trust- well as behavioral trust. These additional studies conducted worthiness (Study 1: ß = .12; p = .002; Study 2: ß = .11; by the original author were also pre-registered and analyses p < .001; Study 3: ß = .12; p < .001; Study 4: ß = .06; p were conducted in line with the pre-registrations (see the =.006) consistently increased with participant-target agree- original paper, Zlatev, 2019). As such, we believe that the ment on the social issue. findings of our mini meta-analyses are likely to be informa- tive on the true and average effect size. We deviated from Mini Meta-Analyses across All Studies the best practice approach in only one way: we did not pre- register the mini meta-analyses themselves by specifying We conducted three mini meta-analyses (one for per- all studies and effects to be included. This practice is rec- ceived integrity-based trustworthiness, one for perceived ommended to avoid potential file-drawer problems (Vos- benevolence-based trustworthiness, and one for behavioral gerau et al., 2019). However, we believe that this might be a trust) including all our studies and the original studies by lesser concern in our case, because 1) we included all stud- Zlatev to provide best estimates for the effect (see Goh et ies of this project (see above) and 2) we did not use the al., 2016, for a discussion and the exact procedure; see SOM meta-analyses to demonstrate statistical significance (all C for our analytic strategy). All effect sizes were trans- included effects were significant in the first place). formed into Pearson’s r. Analyses reveal small effects for perceived integrity-based (weighted mean effect size of r General Discussion = .24) and perceived benevolence-based (r = .20) trustwor- thiness as well as behavioral trust (r = .16). Thus, pooled Trust plays an essential role in the functioning of inter- evidence across all studies points to a small effect of a tar- personal relationships and society. Especially in challeng- get’s level of caring about a social issue on perceived trust- ing times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, successful crisis worthiness. management largely depends on trust in other people (e.g., Note that our mini meta-analyses closely follow best adherence to the official recommendations to combat the practices for such analyses (Vosgerau et al., 2019). First, we virus), researchers (e.g., development of reliable vaccines), included each of our studies and all measures of benev- and politicians (e.g., implementation of effective mea- olence-based and integrity-based trustworthiness as well sures). as behavioral trust. Furthermore, all studies and sample Zlatev (2019) identified a target’s level of caring about a Collabra: Psychology 8 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) Figure 2. Pooled evidence for perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness Note. Figure 2 reports all effect sizes (Zlatev’s and our studies) for a target’s level of caring about a social issue on perceived benevolence-based trustworthiness, confidence in- tervals, standard errors, sample size, and the weight (based on the sample sizes) that has been given to a study in calculating the overall evidence. Figure 3. Pooled evidence for behavioral trust Note. Figure 3 reports all effect sizes (Zlatev’s and our studies) for a target’s level of caring about a social issue on trust, confidence intervals, standard errors, sample size, and the weight (based on the sample sizes) that has been given to a study in calculating the overall evidence. social issue as an important cue for perception of two di- that were used were highly polarized and partisan in the mensions of trustworthiness – integrity-based and benev- U.S. (e.g., abortion; Karol & Thurston, 2020). Additionally, olence-based trustworthiness. One limitation of the orig- on their face, some of the issues might have been quite inal work however might have been that the social issues removed from participants’ personal experience (e.g., eu- Collabra: Psychology 9 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) thanasia). With our work, we aimed to extend and general- One reason for this might be interdependence between ize the effect by using a wider variety of social issues, pre- people: other people being for or against something might sumably in part less controversial (e.g., freedom of speech), not matter so much to a person, but making judgments of as well as topics that had direct relevance for participants’ whether something is legal or not, might imply restrictions day to day life (i.e., recommendations to combat COVID-19, on others. Study 4 allowed us to directly compare issues such as frequent hand washing). This approach resulted in the same design. These exploratory analyses revealed a both in a successful direct replication of the original find- significant interaction between agreement and COVID is- ings in a non-US sample (a sample representative for the sue (yes vs. no) on integrity-based trustworthiness (but not German population in terms of age and gender) as well as benevolence-based trustworthiness) in that the effect of a conceptual replication with issues different from those agreement was less pronounced for the COVID issues. One in the original work. As such, our work shows that the ef- interesting avenue for future research is to examine fects found in the original work are not specific to abstract whether topics that relate to interdependence between peo- partisan, controversial issues, but generalize to issues that ple might moderate the effect of caring on trust as well as affect people’s everyday attitudes and experiences, as well agreement on trust. Another difference between studies is as to different samples. Moreover, we also provide behav- that in Study 3, caring predicted both integrity- and benev- ioral evidence for the effect of caring. Using an incentivized olence-based trustworthiness to roughly equal degree, trust game, we show that the amount trustors transfer in while in the other studies, caring seemed to be more pre- the trust game increases with perceived trustworthiness of dictive of integrity-based trustworthiness than of benevo- the trustee. As such, our work adds strong evidence for the lence-based trustworthiness (see beta coefficients in Tables idea that expressed caring about a social issue can lead to 1-4). Someone who cares about a recommendation to re- more trust in perceivers. With three mini meta-analyses duce the spread of a virus including recommendations that that combine our findings with re-analyses of the original require prosocial acts by everyone (e.g., to stay at home) data (Zlatev, 2019), we provide best estimates for both di- might be perceived as being kind and as having good in- mensions of perceived trustworthiness and behavioral trust. tentions (i.e., benevolent). Future studies could investigate Furthermore, all results were robust to additionally control- these patterns of results in more detail. ling for participant age and gender. We conclude that the Our findings have important political implications. We association between a target’s level of caring about a social observed the effect of a target’s level of caring on perceived issue and trust is small but highly robust. trustworthiness in a sample that represents the broader We find the effects to be independent of the agreement German population and with issues that everyone dealt between participant and target on the issue, in line with the with (i.e., recommendations to combat the spread of findings by Zlatev (2019). That is, both caring and agree- COVID-19). Remarkably, the effect is independent of ment affect trust in a positive way, and mostly the effect of whether the participant and the target agree on the issue. agreement was larger than the effect of caring (see beta co- For example, a target that cares about home office during efficients in Tables 1-4) suggesting agreement carries more the pandemic is rated higher concerning integrity-based weight than caring for perceivers when assessing trust. and benevolence-based trustworthiness even if the partic- However, this was not the case for Study 3, where the effect ipant does not share the opinion on whether home office of caring seemed at least as strong as the effect of agree- should be required. Given that politicians rely on percep- ment. This difference seems mostly due to a smaller effect tions of trust, one implication might be that politicians of agreement in Study 3 compared to the other studies. This would do well to communicate a high level of caring about difference between studies might have emerged as a result the recommendations that they want to implement. Higher of random variation of effect sizes across studies (Kenny & trust in politicians and scientists in turn has been shown to Judd, 2019). However, it is also possible that the difference increase adherence to recommendations (e.g., Dohle et al., is more systematic and due to conceptual differences be- 2020) and willingness to get vaccinated (e.g., Murphy et al., tween our studies. Recall that the social issues in Study 3 2021) – ultimately saving lives. were about COVID-19 related recommendations to prevent Although our research provides a thorough and robust the spread of the virus. We selected these topics because we examination of the effect of caring on perceived trustwor- were interested in whether effects of caring would extend to thiness and even behavioral trust, we should mention that issues with direct relevance to people’s daily lives. Indeed, there is also a limitation. Although the effects of a target’s during the time of the study (June to October 2020) all these caring on perceived trustworthiness appears to be quite ro- issues were directly related to the pandemic crisis situation bust, the size of the effect appears to vary across studies in the German population. Switching topics for Study 3 (and and issues. This suggests that the effect of a target’s level 4 for the COVID-19 related social issues) also meant that of caring about a social issue on perceived trustworthiness we slightly changed the target descriptions. Specifically, for is partially moderated by other factors. We tested perceived the COVID-19 related issues, instead of giving information controversy of a social issue as a moderator in all studies about whether the target thought the issue should be legal but due to the inconsistent findings, we cannot make strong vs. illegal, we gave information about whether the target claims concerning such a moderation until further studies was for or against the recommendation. Possibly this differ- provide more evidence. However, in exploratory analyses we ence played a role. Presumably, agreement on whether one identified two other moderators that showed quite consis- supports an issue might be less important than agreeing on tent results across the studies, namely participant’s level legality. Thus, perhaps agreement played a smaller role in of caring about a social issue and participant-target agree- Study 3, because it was related to support, not legality. ment on the social issue. Specifically, the effect of a target’s Collabra: Psychology 10 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) level of caring about a social issue on perceived trustwor- were undergraduate students in the course, listed alpha- thiness increased if the participants cared about the issue. betically. The undergraduate authors designed the studies Furthermore, the effect of a target’s level of caring about under the supervision of Angela R. Dorrough and Iris K. a social issue on perceived trustworthiness also increased Schneider, collected the data, and wrote their own empirical when participant and target had the same stance on the report in fulfillment of course requirements. Nathalie Bick issue (i.e., supported vs. not supported the issue). Future contributed to the project as part of her internship in partial research could investigate additional circumstances under fulfillment of her master’s degree at the University of which the effects are more or less pronounced. One idea is Cologne under the supervision of Angela R. Dorrough and to include economic issues instead of, or in addition to, so- Iris K. Schneider. She co-supervised the undergraduate stu- cial issues in future research. It is conceivable that if some- dents. Formal contributions to this work according to the one cares about the issue of (not) cutting taxes for rich Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT; https://casrai.org/ people for example, this has a negative effect on benevo- credit) were as follows: All authors conceptualized the ideas lence-based (since benevolence for example conveys a tar- and provided resources. Angela R. Dorrough and Iris K. get’s kindness or positive intentions), but not so much on Schneider acquired funds; Angela R. Dorrough curated the integrity-based trustworthiness (i.e., a target’s perceived data, conducted formal analyses, visualization (preparation honesty or virtuousness). of figures), and validation (verification of analytical repro- In sum, in the current work, we extend research showing ducibility). Angela R. Dorrough wrote the original manu- that people use the degree to which others care about an is- script draft with input from all student authors. Iris K. sue as a cue on which they base perceived trustworthiness Schneider reviewed and edited the manuscript. All the (Zlatev, 2019). Specifically, we demonstrate that these find- listed authors approved the final manuscript for submis- ings are not restricted to contentious social issues such as sion. abortion, but rather also hold for issues that are directly rel- Competing Interests evant to people’s lives and that are more or less controver- sial. Moreover, these findings apply directly to COVID-19 Authors have no competing interests to declare. related issues as well, providing direct societal relevance. Our findings also show that this effect generalizes over Funding samples, emerging both in student samples, as well as rep- resentative (for gender and age) German samples. Finally, This work was supported by a Seedcorn Grant from the we provide evidence that these perceptions of trustworthi- Center for Social and Economic Behavior (University of ness influence actual trust behavior in a trust game in which Cologne) [Rd10-2020-JSUG-Dorrough]. participants respond to real participants and where their trust has direct consequences for their outcomes. Data Accessibility Statement All studies were pre-registered [Study 1: https://osf.io/ qha3e; Study 2: https://osf.io/c25s7; Study 3: https://osf.io/ Author Contributions 6w9dj; Study 4: https://osf.io/bdv8u] and all materials, data, and analysis scripts are openly available (https://osf.io/za- We conducted Studies 1-3 as part of an undergraduate gkd). experimental psychology course at the University of Cologne. Angela R. Dorrough is the author who taught the Submitted: October 21, 2021 PST, Accepted: November 28, course. Lukas Bring, Caroline Brockers, and Charlotte Butz 2021 PST This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CCBY-4.0). View this license’s legal deed at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 and legal code at http://creativecom- mons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode for more information. 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Metzler. https://doi.org/10.1007/97 8-3-476-05762-4_54 Collabra: Psychology 13 Caring About (COVID-19 Related) Social Issues Signals Trustworthiness: Direct and Conceptual Replication of Zlatev (2019) SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS Supplementary Material Download: https://collabra.scholasticahq.com/article/31036-caring-about-covid-19-related-social-issues-signals- trustworthiness-direct-and-conceptual-replication-of-zlatev-2019/attachment/ 78179.docx?auth_token=VwN9djs1E_aYh3ivZ3Qi Peer Review Download: https://collabra.scholasticahq.com/article/31036-caring-about-covid-19-related-social-issues-signals- trustworthiness-direct-and-conceptual-replication-of-zlatev-2019/attachment/ 78180.docx?auth_token=VwN9djs1E_aYh3ivZ3Qi Cover Letter Download: https://collabra.scholasticahq.com/article/31036-caring-about-covid-19-related-social-issues-signals- trustworthiness-direct-and-conceptual-replication-of-zlatev-2019/attachment/ 78181.docx?auth_token=VwN9djs1E_aYh3ivZ3Qi Collabra: Psychology
Collabra Psychology – University of California Press
Published: Jan 10, 2022
Keywords: trust; trustworthiness; COVID-19; social perception; replication; open data; open materials; preregistered
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