Trust makes you delusional and that's not all bad

February 27, 2013, Northwestern University

Trust fools you into remembering that your partner was more considerate and less hurtful than he or she actually was.

New research from Northwestern University and Redeemer University College (Ontario, Canada) is the first to systematically examine the role of trust in biasing memories of in romantic partnerships.

People who are highly trusting tended to remember transgressions in a way that benefits the relationship, remembering transgressions as less severe than they originally reported them to be. People low on trust demonstrated the opposite pattern, remembering partner transgressions as being more severe than how they originally reported them to be.

"One of the ways that trust is so good for relationships is that it makes us partly delusional," said Eli J. Finkel, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Northwestern.

Laura B. Luchies, lead author of the study, said the current psychological reality of your relationship isn't what actually happened in the past, but rather the frequently distorted of what actually happened.

"You can remember your partner as better or as worse than he/she really was, and those biased memories are important determinants of how you think about your partner and your relationship," she said.

Researchers have long known that trust is crucial to a well-functioning relationship.

"This research presents a newer, deeper understanding," Finkel said. "It reveals that trust yields -promoting of the past."

Said Luchies, assistant professor of at Redeemer University College: "If you talk to people who really trust their partner now, they forget some of the negative things their partner did in the past. If they don't trust their partner much, they remember their partner doing negative things that the partner never actually did. They tend to misremember."

Explore further: Cut your Valentine some slack

More information: "Trust and Biased Memory of Transgressions in Romantic Relationships" was published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Related Stories

Cut your Valentine some slack

February 13, 2012
If the one you love usually forgets Valentine's Day, but this year makes a romantic effort, you should give him credit for trying.

High social status makes people more trusting, study finds

September 28, 2011
When you start a new job, your boss may be more likely to trust you than you are to trust him or her, a new study suggests.

Secret love cheats pose a greater infection risk than those in open sexual relationships

June 14, 2012
People who were sexually unfaithful without their partner's knowledge were less likely to practice safe sex than those who had other sexual relationships with their partner's consent. They were also more likely to be under ...

Recommended for you

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.