Suspicious personality predicts behavior on a social decision-making task

Melissa K. Johnson, Aldo Rustichini, Angus W. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


How do personality measures of suspiciousness correspond to experimental measures of trust? Eighty-two subjects responded in an experimental paradigm that distinguished a suspicious decision-making condition from rational mistrust and risk aversion. Subjects in the Minnesota trust game were anonymously paired and chose between an assured payoff and a payoff determined by a partner or a coin flip. We found that subjects high on the alienation subscale of the multidimensional personality questionnaire (Patrick, Curtin, & Tellegen, 2002; Tellegen & Waller, 2008) were less trusting even when their partner had no monetary incentive to penalize them. However, subjects high on harm avoidance chose the uncertain payoff less when a coin flip determined their payment. These findings suggested that the mental processes associated with suspiciousness were qualitatively different from those related to risk aversion and rational mistrust and served to validate the Minnesota trust game as a measure of individual differences in suspicious decision-making biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • Decision-making
  • Economic decision-making
  • Multidimensional personality questionnaire
  • Personality
  • Risk aversion
  • Suspiciousness
  • Trust


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