“Trust and Self-Control in Relationships” by Catrin Finkenauer (Utrecht University)
Date: Thursday, February 15th, 2018
One sentence summary
Self-control is key to unraveling how children and adults discern others’ trustworthiness and may play an important role in trust repair.
Trust is crucial to getting through the myriad interdependent interactions people of all ages face every day, from playing to parenting, from communicating to lovemaking. Self-control, the capacity to control impulses, delay gratification, and modulate emotions, plays an integral role in many aspects of relationships. Given its relational importance, I propose that self-control is key to unravelling how trust develops in relationships. Despite its great relational importance, most research has focused on the link between actors’ self-control and actors’ outcomes. Consequently, we know little about dyadic processes of self-control and its relational effects: Is self-control perceived by partners? If yes, how does it affect the relationship and trust? Is self-control important for trust in parent-child relationships? Can self-control play a role in trust repair? In this presentation, I will begin to answer these questions. I will present longitudinal and experimental research that examines the relational role of self-control in relationship maintenance and deterioration. The data I will present highlight the importance of self-control for both partners in the relationship: the partner who exerts self-control as well as the partner who perceives this self-control in the other. I will discuss the implications of these findings for research on relationships and therapeutic interventions (e.g., family violence).
Catrin Finkenauer is Professor Youth Studies at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She is chair of the interdisciplinary research program Youth in Changing Cultural Contexts. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the Catholic University of Louvain, at Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) in 1998, and worked at Child and Adolescent Studies (Utrecht University), Social Psychology (VU Amsterdam) and the Department of Family Science (VU Amsterdam) before joining her current department in 2016. She also holds a professorship of Child Abuse and Interpersonal Relationships at VU University. The research of her team seeks to understand how
relationship partners bring out the best and the worst in each other. It aims to identify means of fostering harmonious relationships and preventing misunderstandings and conflict. It spans different topics, including secrecy, trust, self-control, family violence, divorce, and the effects of social inequality. In 2014, she was nominated SPSP Research Fellow in recognition of her scientific contribution to the broader field of personality and social psychology. She has been associate editor at different high-impact journals in the field of social psychology and interpersonal relationships, since 2006, and is currently associate editor at Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.