ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 2236-2245.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02236

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Are there sex differences in trust levels?

QU Jiachen, GONG Zhe   

  1. School of Psychology, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610068, China
  • Received:2021-03-05 Online:2021-12-15 Published:2021-10-26

Abstract: Academics have different opinions regarding the sex difference in trust level. One group of researchers holds the view of sex differences in trust levels, where risk preference theory supports the view that men have a higher level of trust, and the advantages over the women in the prosocial field provide support for women to have a higher level of trust. However, another group of scholars believe that there is no sex difference in trust level, which is based on the gender similarities hypothesis. Although the views of the two groups and their theoretical foundations have been supported to a certain extent; however, they need to be comprehensively analyzed and clarified about their rationality. After summarizing, in terms of theoretical assumptions, the theoretical basis that men show high trust tendencies based on high-risk preferences has received relatively sufficient support. In contrast, both the prosocial view that women have higher trust level and the gender similarity hypothesis that there is no sex difference in trust level have been questioned by some research results and need to be further verified. In the research paradigm, the evidence shows that the superiority effect of the male trust level may depend on the paradigm characteristics of the trust game. The close relationship between the trust game paradigm itself and risk preference may promote the expression of male trust. Moreover, the superiority effect of the female trust level is related to the trust interaction process and plays a role in a specific trust dimension. However, the evidence that supports both sexes' trust level is similar requires an in-depth investigation of the reasons behind the results, which may be due to problems such as measurement methods, statistical analysis, and sample limitations that have not fully revealed sex differences. In terms of cultural comparison, the cultural background of differences between the East and the West may also interact with sex. The results of the current mainstream research on sex differences in trust in the West may not be suitable for explaining the characteristics of sex trust in China. Future research can deepen the research on sex differences in trust levels from the following perspectives. First, using trust measurement methods needs to be more rationally. While stripping away the interference of trust game paradigm investment scenarios, use various measurement methods to characterize multi-dimensional trust. Second, avoid only static and one-sided perspectives to understand and operate on trust variables. The future research should further integrate the mechanism of trust generation (establishment and development, betrayal and maintenance), individualized development process and cross-cultural research on sex differences in trust, and clarify the sex characteristics of trust in the dynamic process of change. Third, deepen the research on the neurophysiological mechanism of the trust difference between the sexes. On the one hand, it explores whether there are specific trust neural pathways between the sexes in various trust situations; on the other hand, it investigates the non-general effects of physiological hormones on the trust of the sexes systematically, thus fundamentally better reveal the issue of sex differences in trust levels.

Key words: trust, sex, trust game

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