Which Emotion(s) Mediate the Relationship Between Mental Illness and Trust?

Stephen Rice, Keegan Kraemer, Rian Mehta


Previous literature has shown that the stigma of mental illness can have serious negative effects on trust ratings in the person suffering from the illness. Furthermore, prior studies have shown that general affect (emotions) mediate the relationship between mental illness stigma and trust; that is, people trust those with mental illness less because they feel more negatively towards them. The current study expands on these findings by analyzing specifically which emotions mediate this relationship, and how strong that mediation effect is. We used Ekman and Friesen’s (1971) six universal facial expressions of emotions to test this missing gap in the literature. In two studies, participants were presented with a target individual who had severe and chronic depression (versus a control group) and asked to provide ratings of affect and trust in the target individuals. In Study 1, we replicated a previous finding that general affect mediates the relationship between mental illness and trust. In Study 2, we found that of the six universal emotions, only Happiness had a significant mediating effect on the relationship between mental illness and trust. We discuss the theoretical, practical and methodological implications of this data.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/iss.v3i2.8484


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