The impact of betrayal trauma on the tendency to trust.

Robyn L. Gobin, Jennifer J. Freyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early experiences of violation perpetrated by close others, or betrayal traumas, may interfere with developing social capacities, including the ability to make healthy decisions about whom to trust. Betrayal trauma theory posits that survivors of trauma are at increased risk of making inaccurate trust decisions in interpersonal contexts, thus interfering with intimacy and elevating risk for revictimization. The current study examined the impact of betrayal trauma exposure on trust tendencies using both self-report and behavioral measures in a college sample. Self-report measures were used to explore general and relational (partner-specific) trust. The Trust Game, an experimental economics task, was used to investigate differences in trust tendencies between participants with and without histories of high betrayal trauma. As predicted, and in line with previous findings, high betrayal trauma exposure was associated with lower levels of self-reported general and relational trust. Self-reported general trust correlated positively with behavior during the Trust Game. Contrary to our hypothesis, participants with high betrayal trauma histories were not significantly more or less willing to trust during the Trust Game. Future directions and clinical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-511
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of betrayal trauma on the tendency to trust.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this