The paradoxical decline and growth of trust as a function of borderline personality disorder trait count: Using discontinuous growth modelling to examine trust dynamics in response to violation and repair

Gamze Abramov, Sebastien Miellet, Jason Kautz, Brin F S Grenyer, Frank P Deane
PloS One 2020, 15 (7): e0236170
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is associated with paradoxical trust cognitions and behaviours. While BPD is associated with difficulty forming trust and maintaining cooperation in trust-based exchanges, design and analytical methodology best suited to reveal the temporal ebb and flow of trust have been underutilized. We used an economic game to examine the trajectories of trust as it forms, dissolves, and restores in response to trust violation and repair, and to explain how these vary as a function of borderline pathology. Young adults (N = 234) played a 15-round trust game in which partner trustworthiness was varied to create three phases: trust formation, trust violation, and trust restoration. Discontinuous growth modelling was employed to capture the trends in trust over time and their relationship with BPD trait count. BPD trait count was associated with an incongruous pattern of trust behaviour in the form of declining trust when interacting with a new and cooperative partner, and paradoxically, increasing trust following multiple instances of trust violation by that partner. BPD trait count was also associated with trust restoring at a faster rate than it was originally formed. By adopting a methodology that recognizes the dynamic nature of trust, this study illustrated at a micro level how relational disturbances may be produced and maintained in those with a moderate to high BPD trait count. Further investigation of the factors and processes that underlie these incongruous trust dynamics is recommended.

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