Scientists reveal, negative emotions can reduce our capacity to trust
on 20 March 2019
The problem with negativity

It is really hard to have a good life experience with a negative mindset. And equally, it's really hard to shake off a negative mindset when your brain is off-kilter. Find out how hypnosis realigns your mind, putting both sides on the same page, so to speak . . . 

To change your life, change your mindset!

This research follows on from a similar study back in 2008. In that study, the brain regions that were identified were the amygdala and the striatum, which makes perfect sense given the primary role of these two regions. The amygdala is renowned for its part in emotional memory processing, mostly in tune with the defensive system and the striatum with its predilection towards reward and motor function.

If you pare down trust, its most basic function is defence. We open ourselves up and become vulnerable to people we trust and when that trust is broken it causes us emotional havoc. The research mentions that negative emotional events reduce how much we trust others, even if those events have nothing to do with trust decisions. Of course, I'm guessing they are referring more to logical and analytical factors. But the subconscious uses a whole different set of rational processing when it comes to matters of survival or defence. If you trust someone and they honour that trust, there is a reward factor in that transaction (striatum) and a level of pleasure, positive emotion (left) amygdala.

In hypnosis, there is clear evidence of changes in the way these two regions process information. Of course, in the natural turn of events, we learn to see things for what they are, adjust our strategy, beliefs etc. and move on. However, when these brain regions become disordered, we eventually lose the ability to process information logically and rationally. In a sense, our brain loses its belief in our normal self to safely process information responsibly and takes over; sounds a little like some managers or bosses I know?

Essentially both sides of our mind have to be on the same page for us to live an effective and good life. But since we live in a world where there is much greater exposure to negativity, replete with some very shady characters, who are more out for themselves, than their Company or colleagues. So, we have a brain and mind system that has evolved to deal with threats and is up to the job of keeping us alive, protected or safe. We get a little confused though because we seem to equate seemingly being safe to feeling good. i.e. if my brain is protecting me, keeping me safe etc. then that's a good thing and good things should feel good, right? Theoretically, that's correct, but in practice, it's North Pole - South Pole!

Hypnotherapy allows us to develop that equatorial effect of emotional balance, a position from where we can see both sides of life, north and south, up and down, top and bottom. So, if you want to get both sides of your mind on the same page, then try hypnotherapy, the whole mind treatment that gets your two minds working towards a common goal, the goal of having a great life experience!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here or to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research:

It is no secret that a bad mood can negatively affect how we treat others. But can it also make us more distrustful? Yes, is the answer according to a new study, which shows that negative emotions reduce how much we trust others, even if these emotions were triggered by events that have nothing to do with the decision to trust. The study was carried out by an international research team from the University of Zurich (UZH) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

That emotion can influence the way we interact with others is well known -- just think of how easily an argument with a loved one can get heated. But what about when these emotions are triggered by events that have nothing to do with the person we are interacting with, for instance, the annoyance caused by a traffic jam or a parking fine. Researchers call these types of emotions "incidental," because they were triggered by events that are unrelated to our currently ongoing social interactions. It has been shown that incidental emotions frequently occur in our day-to-day interactions with others, although we might not be fully aware of them.

Negative emotions suppress trust

For the study, UvA neuro-economist Jan Engelmann teamed up with UZH neuro-economists Ernst Fehr, Christian Ruff and Friederike Meyer. The team investigated whether the incidental aversive effect can influence trust behaviour and the brain networks relevant for supporting social cognition. To induce a prolonged state of negative affect, the team used the well-established threat-of-shock method, in which participants are threatened with (but only sometimes given) an unpleasant electrical shock. This threat has been shown to reliably induce anticipatory anxiety. Within this emotional context, participants were then asked to play a trust game, which involved decisions about how much money they wished to invest in a stranger (with the stranger having the possibility to repay in kind or keep all the invested money to themselves). The researchers found that participants indeed trusted significantly less when they were anxious about receiving a shock, even though the threat had nothing to do with their decision to trust.

Disrupted brain activity and connectivity

The team also recorded participants' brain responses using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) while they made trust decisions. This revealed that a region that is widely implicated in understanding others' beliefs, the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), was significantly suppressed during trust decisions when participants felt threatened, but not when they felt safe. The connectivity between the TPJ and the amygdala was also significantly suppressed by negative affect. Moreover, under safe conditions, the strength of the connectivity between the TPJ and other important social cognition regions, such as the posterior superior temporal sulcus and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, predicted how much participants trusted others. This relationship between brain activity and behaviour was nullified when participants felt anxious.

"These results show that negative emotions can significantly impact our social interactions, and specifically how much we trust others," authors Jan Engelmann and Christian Ruff explain. "They also reveal the underlying effects of the negative effect on brain circuitry: Negative effect suppresses the social cognitive neural machinery important for understanding and predicting others' behaviour." According to Engelmann, their findings indicate that negative emotions can have important consequences on how we approach social interactions. "In light of recent political events in the UK and the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament, the results also contain a warning: Negative emotions, even if they are incidental, may distort how we make important social decisions, including voting."

Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of ZurichNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jan B. Engelmann, Friederike Meyer, Christian C. Ruff, Ernst Fehr. The neural circuitry of affect-induced distortions of trustScience Advances, 2019; 5 (3): eaau3413 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3413

Cite This Page:

The University of Zurich. "Negative emotions can reduce our capacity to trust." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2019. <>.