Dr Tessa Haesevoets, Ghent University

The strong emphasis on the presence and benefits of trust has led scholars to leave the issue of violated trust and, more importantly, the question how broken trust can be repaired remained in an empirical shade. In light of the different strategies that transgressors can employ in order to enhance victims’ trust, one of the most prominent responses is the provision of a financial compensation. Yet, most prior studies only explored compensations that are smaller than or equivalent to the inflicted harm. More recently, scholars have argued that additional compensation beyond the amount of inflicted harm might be required to fully repair the damaged relationship. The critical question that arises is if such costly overcompensations have positive effects in addition to the impact of less costly equal compensation.

Our set of studies shows that large overcompensation offers no positive effects in term of trust in addition to the impact of equal compensation. The lack of positive overcompensation effects also apply for people who observe the compensation and occur for both competence and integrity violations. Next, we discuss our research showing that the overcompensation-restoration curve is actually characterised by an inverted U-shape: mild amounts of overcompensation have an additional positive effect on harm restoration beyond equal compensation, but once the overcompensation crosses a specific threshold its effectiveness decreases.

Despite this general pattern, there are also robust individual differences in how people respond to increasing overcompensation: the majority of people show a rising curve that flattens out in the high range, whereas a smaller portion of people react negative to every form of overcompensation (no matter how small). A question that arises from all of this evidence, is then why large overcompensation is not more effective than equal compensation, even though it best satisfies victims’ economic needs? In answer to this question, our research confirms that the lack of positive overcompensation effects can be ascribed to its lower perceived fairness. Finally, we discuss in detail our neuroscience research in which we investigated the neural correlates of trust repair through (equal and over)compensation, using an fMRI approach.

Speaker bio

Dr Tessa Haesevoets is a social psychologist with a specific interest in if and how broken relationships can be repaired across a wide range of settings, including economic exchanges, work floor, and close relationships. She obtained her PhD in March 2017 and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology at Ghent University, Belgium.

During her PhD project, she focused on investigating the effectiveness of financial compensations and apologies to repair broken trust, both in interpersonal and in business relationships. By employing a social as well as a neuropsychological perspective to the topic of trust repair, she has demonstrated that, under certain circumstances, harmed relationships can be restored in a trustworthy manner. This work nicely reflects her ‘positive’ view on trust, which holds that although trust is very fragile it is also a dynamic concept as human beings are able to restore violated trust.

As a postdoctoral researcher she now aims to take her research a step further by investigating if positive trust repair effects can also be transferred to other persons who are associated with the person who showed repentance. With this new research, she hopes to show that we are not powerless to the ‘march of distrust’, which was witnessed during the last decades in Western societies; and that transfer of trust repair attempts might actually mitigate the spread of distrust.

Address

Trumpington St
Cambridge
CambridgeshireCB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Date & time

Date: 14 February 2018
Start Time: 15:00
End Time: 16:30

Audience

Open to: Members of the University of Cambridge

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Event location


Trumpington St
Cambridge
CambridgeshireCB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Event timings

Date: 14 February 2018
Start Time: 15:00
End Time: 16:30