Signaling when (and when not) to be cautious and self-protective: impulsive and reflective trust in close relationships

Sandra Murray, Rebecca Pinkus, John Holmes, Brianna Harris, Sarah Gomillion, Maya Aloni, Jaye Derrick, Sadie Leder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)


A dual process model is proposed to explain how automatic evaluative associations to the partner (i.e., impulsive trust) and deliberative expectations of partner caring (i.e., reflective trust) interact to govern self-protection in romantic relationships. Experimental and correlational studies of dating and marital relationships supported the model. Subliminally conditioning more positive evaluative associations to the partner increased confidence in the partner's caring, suggesting that trust has an impulsive basis. Being high on impulsive trust (i.e., more positive evaluative associations to the partner on the Implicit Association Test; Zayas & Shoda, 2005) also reduced the automatic inclination to distance in response to doubts about the partner's trustworthiness. It similarly reduced self-protective behavioral reactions to these reflective trust concerns. The studies further revealed that the effects of impulsive trust depend on working memory capacity: Being high on impulsive trust inoculated against reflective trust concerns for people low on working memory capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-502
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


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