Getting off on the wrong foot: The timing of a breach and the restoration of trust

Robert B. Lount, Chen Bo Zhong, Niro Sivanathan, J. Keith Murnighan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Few interpersonal relationships endure without one party violating the other's expectations. Thus, the ability to build trust and to restore cooperation after a breach can be critical for the preservation of positive relationships. Using an iterated prisoner's dilemma, this article presents two experiments that investigated the effects of the timing of a trust breachĝ€"at the start of an interaction, after 5 trials, after 10 trials, or not at all. The findings indicate that getting off on the wrong foot has devastating long-term consequences. Although later breaches seemed to limit cooperation for only a short time, they still planted a seed of distrust that surfaced in the end.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1601-1612
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Cooperation
  • Primacy effect
  • Trust
  • Trust breach
  • Trust repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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