People use karmic belief as a cue to bolster others' trustworthiness

People use karmic belief as a cue to bolster others' trustworthiness ...

According to a new paper published in the journal of Judgment and Decision Making, American Christians expect more trustworthiness from karma devotees. However, this expectation did not match the actual behavior of their interaction partners, suggesting that using karmic belief as a cue to predict trustworthiness is erroneous.

Because the research literature did not provide a clear answer to this question, I was personally interested in how expressing one's belief in karma would affect how they are perceived by others (for example, Wang et al., 2014).

"However, karmic belief differs from most other superstitious beliefs in that it revolves around the notion of justice being served." Thus, people may expect karma believers to be more or less likely to avoid karmic punishment or to reap karmic rewards. We also wanted to examine whether people's perception is a true reflection of reality."

In addition to trustor and trustee roles, a total of 333 Christian Americans and 350 U.S Americans with differing beliefs in karma and Christianity participated in this research.

The trustors made an "IN" or "OUT" decision. If the trustor opts out, both the trustor and the trustee would receive a minor financial gain. If the trustor opts in and the trustee reciprocates, they both would receive a moderate financial gain. Lastly, if the trustor opted in and the trustee did not reciprocate, the trustee would receive the worst outcome.

Trustors answered four rounds with different partners (Belief in Christianity: yes or no; belief in karma: yes or no). Trustors indicated whether or not they anticipated their partner to reciprocate and their choice to opt in or out were included in a separate group of trustees with no information about the trustors.

“We concluded that participants expected individuals who believe in karma to act in a more trustworthy manner and trusted these individuals more,” according to the researcher. “In fact, individuals who believe in karma did not act in a more trustworthy manner.”

The difference between the trustor's expectations and the trustee's decisions suggests that using karmic belief as a cue for trustworthiness predictions is erroneous.

Participants making trustworthiness judgments were only provided with information about their partners' beliefs in karma and God. In many real-life situations, people have more information that they can rely on when making trustworthiness judgments (such as face, race, reputation). The author concludes that whether and how belief in karma would continue to impact trustworthiness judgment in such "information rich" situations is a topic for future research.

According to the author, "The study was conducted on Amazon's Mechanical Turk users. Therefore, caution should be exercised when applying our findings to other populations."

"While we speculate that the reason why karma devotees are trusted more is because they are expected to behave in a more trustworthy manner to avoid karmic punishment or to reap karmic rewards," said the author. This explanation has not been directly tested in our study.

How Hwee Ong, Anthony M. Evans, Rob M. A. Nelissen, and Ilja van Beest coauthored the paper "Belief in karma is associated with perceived (but not actual) trustworthiness."

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