When Emotional Intelligence Affects Peoples’ Perception of Trustworthiness

Wing Shing Lee1, Marcus Selart2, *
1 I-Shou University, Department of International Business Administration, Office No 1, Sec. 1, Syucheng Rd, Dashu District, Kaohsiang City 84001, Taiwan
2 Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Strategy and Management, Helleveien 30, NO 5045 Bergen, Norway

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© 2015 Lee and Selart.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Strategy and Management, Helleveien 30, NO 5045 Bergen, Norway; Tel: +47 55959695; E-mail:


By adopting social exchange theory and the affect-infusion-model, the hypothesis is made that emotional intelligence (EI) will have an impact on three perceptions of trustworthiness – ability, integrity and benevolence – at the beginning of a relationship. It was also hypothesized that additional information would gradually displace EI in forming the above perceptions. The results reveal that EI initially does not contribute to any of the perceptions of trustworthiness. As more information is revealed EI has an impact on the perception of benevolence, but not on the perceptions of ability and integrity. This impact was observed to be negative when the nature of the information was negative. On the other hand, information alone was shown to have a significant impact on the perceptions of ability and integrity, but not on the perception of benevolence. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are addressed.

Keywords: Affect, emotional intelligence, social exchange theory, trust.