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WorkgroupSocial Processes Lab
Duration09/2016 – 07/2022
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

Successful cooperation often requires mutual trust. This is all the more the case when it is about cooperation between groups. When the impression of the outgroup is mostly shaped by prejudice and not by knowledge, trust building means are required. But how can trust in an outgroup be enhanced? Within the scope of this dissertation project, we investigated the conditions under which communication increases intergroup trust.

Whether we trust an outgroup or not depends on which characteristics we attribute to the outgroup. Obtaining information that speaks in favor of the respective group’s trustworthiness influences our impression of that group, i.e., our stereotype. Especially in the digital era, we receive more information about many unfamiliar groups through the media than through direct interactions. Such information can also impact on how trustworthy we account an outgroup. However, intergroup trust enhancement does not only depend on which information is conveyed. Likewise, the way of communication as well as the characteristics of the recipients have influence.

Within this project, we examined the conditions of enhancing outgroup trust through communication and the underlying mental mechanisms. We showed that the usage of certain linguistic forms leads to a flexible thinking style and, thereby, enhances trust among people who were initially skeptical towards the outgroup. For instance, negating stereotypic content (compared to affirming counter-stereotypic content) or using rhetorical questions that encourage to think about alternative courses of action proved effective.


Winter, K., Scholl, A., & Sassenberg, K. (2023). Flexible minds make more moderate views: Subtractive counterfactuals mitigate strong views about immigrants’ trustworthiness. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 26(6), 1310-1328. [Data] request document

Winter, K., & Sassenberg, K. (2021). Mitigating the default? The influence of ingroup diversity on outgroup trust. International Review of Social Psychology, 34(1), Article 19. [Data] Open Access

Winter, K., Scholl, A., & Sassenberg, K. (2021). A matter of flexibility: Changing outgroup attitudes through messages with negations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120(4), 956-976. [Data] request document


Dr. Kevin Winter Dr. Kevin Winter
Tel.: +49 7071 979-206