Cognition is a matter of trust: Distrust tunes cognitive processes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current review proposes that exposure to a specific untrustworthy source of information engages a mode of thought-a distrust mindset-that is also evoked by incidental distrust contexts and by personality characteristics. The review summarises empirical research demonstrating that-in contrast to trust, which leads to the familiar congruent type of cognitive processes-distrust triggers a spontaneous activation of alternatives and incongruent associations for a given concept. These alternatives dilute the activation level of the given concept, indicating that our mind can spontaneously stop the congruent-processing flow. Consequently, distrust blocks congruent effects such as confirmatory biases, accessibility effects, stereotyping, and routine reasoning. Thus, the review suggests that the basic flow of our cognition is (dis)trust dependent. The review concludes with a discussion of the effect of the distrust mindset as a demonstration of (1) situated cognition and (2) a spontaneous negation process.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)283-327
Number of pages45
JournalEuropean Review of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Accessibility
  • Distrust
  • Negation
  • Situated cognition

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cognition is a matter of trust: Distrust tunes cognitive processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this