Experiencing interpersonal betrayals or trust violations can often create negative consequences for victims when creating new relationships. Past studies have found that trauma from previous betrayals can impair trust and thereby trust behavior for victims in the future. However, little research has been done to empirically characterize this connection and existing studies have provided conflicting results. The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between past trust violations, measured through the Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey (BBTS), and present self-reported trust and trust behavior. Differences in trust behavior between those with or without a history of betrayals was measured through an experimental economic trust game. Results found that those with a history of betrayal trauma had marginally lowered self-rated trust in strangers. While a history of betrayal trauma did not yield main effects on either first or average investments in the trust game, those with a history of betrayal had similar first and average investments in partners regardless of visual cue trustworthiness. Victims of betrayal seem to lack discriminatory trust behavior or possibly disregard visual cues entirely. These findings add to the current understanding of how victims of interpersonal betrayal interpret and respond to visual cues both initially and across multiple interactions and is especially relevant for those who aim to form close relationships with these individuals such as care providers.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Lighthall, Nichole


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Psychology Commons