Funded PhD Research

Polly Kang

Affective Congruence: When Expressing Negative Affect Promotes Trust

Management Department; Faculty Adviser: Maurice Schweitzer


We demonstrate that expressing negative affect can boost trust. Specifically, when negative affective expressions are congruent with the affective context, the context that co-occurs with the affective expression, observers trust individuals who express negative affect more than they trust individuals who express neutral affect. We explore the underlying reverse inference process, and find that emotional expressions that are congruent with the affective context signal diagnostic information of sensibility. Inferences of diagnosticity and sensibility are particularly strong for congruent, negative affective expressions. Our findings deepen our understanding of the relationships among emotion, cognition, and trust, and highlight the importance of accounting for affective context in emotion research.

Publications, Presentations & Awards


Academy of Management, 2017 

International Association of Conflict Management, 2017