ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (1): 31-36.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2013.00031

• Research Reports • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does Knowledge of Economics Encourage Interpersonal Distrust? Impact of Economic Learning on Interpersonal Trust in Undergraduates

XIN Ziqiang;DOU Donghui;CHEN Chao   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology at School of Social Development, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China) (2 National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2012-04-20 Online:2013-01-15 Published:2013-01-15
  • Contact: XIN Ziqiang

Abstract: The main purpose of this study was to examine whether the study of economics knowledge may reduce the level of interpersonal trust of undergraduates. The researchers measured the levels of interpersonal trust of 290 freshmen and junior-year college students in economics or non-economics majors in a key university of finance and economics. The results showed that there was a significant interaction between major and grade: for freshmen, no significant difference in the level of interpersonal trust was found between economics and noneconomics majors; however, for junior-year students, the interpersonal trust level of students majoring in economics was much lower than that of noneconomics-majors. This finding implies that increasing learning of economics knowledge results in decreases in students’ interpersonal trust. A reasonable explanation is that students’ view of the essence of humanity is shaped by Rational Man Hypothesis embodied in the economics major, which emphasizes the selfish and utilitarian purpose of human behaviors.

Key words: economics, Rational Man Hypothesis, interpersonal trust, undergraduates