Social Development

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 28 Issue 1 (February 2019), Pages 1-251

Modesty can promote trust: Evidence from China (pages 218-233)

Abstract When people let others know about their accomplishments, they can improve their social standing, but doing so may also have a cost, especially within social environments in which there is great emphasis on the value of modesty. One particular downside of self‐promotion, the risk of being seen as untrustworthy, was examined among children in China. Across three studies, children ranging in age from 7 to 11 years (total N = 251) judged the trustworthiness of protagonists who exhibited either modesty or immodesty. In Study 1, protagonists who told lies in the service of modesty were judged as more trustworthy than those who told lies to avoid getting into trouble. In Study 2, protagonists who demonstrated modesty were rated as trustworthy, but those who demonstrated immodesty were not. Study 3 showed that the positive implications of modesty for trust are specific to downplaying one’s own accomplishments and do not extend to downplaying the accomplishments of a peer. Taken together, the results suggest that for children in China, the level of modesty serves as a cue about which people can be trusted.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>