Conflict and trust: The mediating effects of emotional arousal and self-conscious emotions

Chen, Mingkai J. and Ayoko, Oluremi B. (2012) Conflict and trust: The mediating effects of emotional arousal and self-conscious emotions. International Journal of Conflict Management, 23 1: 19-56. doi:10.1108/10444061211199313

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Author Chen, Mingkai J.
Ayoko, Oluremi B.
Title Conflict and trust: The mediating effects of emotional arousal and self-conscious emotions
Journal name International Journal of Conflict Management   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1044-4068
Publication date 2012-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1108/10444061211199313
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 23
Issue 1
Start page 19
End page 56
Total pages 38
Editor Richard Posthuma
Place of publication Bingley, W. Yorks., United Kingdom
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Purpose – Researchers suggest that trust building may be challenging in the face of conflict. However, there is an emerging proposition that conflict is critical for trust. Using affective events and attribution theories as a framework, the purpose of this paper is to present a model of the mediating effects of positive emotional arousal and self-conscious emotions in the relationship between conflict and trust.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from 325 students enrolled in varied postgraduate programs in a large business school. The authors employed Preacher and Hayes's bootstrapping SPSS macros to test the direct and mediation effects of the connection between conflict, emotions and trust.
Findings – Results showed that task, relationship and process conflict were associated with differing aspects of positive emotional arousal (enthusiasm, excitement) and self-conscious emotions (guilt and shame). Similarly, behavioural guilt was linked with trust while emotions mediated the link between conflict and trust.
Research limitations/implications – The authors acknowledge that there are possible covariates (e.g. how long ago did the conflict occur?) with the variables used in the current study. Future research should include such covariates in the study of the relationship between conflict emotions and trust. Also, the data were largely cross-sectional, drawn from a relatively small sample. In future, researchers should examine similar constructs with longitudinal data and in large organisational sample. In spite of the above limitations, the validity of the results presented in this paper is not compromised. The study extends self-conscious emotions literature by demonstrating that guilt and shame have cognitive and behavioural properties and with differing connections with conflict and trust.
Practical implications – The paper's findings suggest that managers who want to engender trust in conflict situations should stimulate task conflict to arouse enthusiasm and excitement. These discrete emotions are critical for building integrity based trust. Alternatively, by managing reparative emotions of guilt effectively, managers may increase levels of perceived trust. Overall, the results suggest that focusing on the effect of conflict on trust without considering the positive emotional arousal and self-conscious emotions could yield disappointing outcomes.
Originality/value – The study provides new insights into the influence of conflict on trust and the mediating role of emotions (e.g. guilt and shame) in the link between conflict and trust. The paper also offers a practical assistance to individuals interested in building trust, especially in the face of conflict.
Keyword Conflict management
Individual psychology
Positive emotional arousal
Self-conscious emotions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes 2013 Emerald Literati Network Highly Commended Paper Award Winner Special Issue: Conflict management and emotions

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 11 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 25 Jan 2012, 00:32:59 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School