Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael D. Coovert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wendy L. Bedwell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph A. Vandello, Ph.D.


negativity effect, hierarchically restrictive schema, impression formation


Organizational work is characterized by positive as well as often negative work behaviors from employees. The same may be said of work done in virtual teams, where computer-mediated communication among team members can be particularly uncivil and inflammatory (Wilson, Straus, & McEvily, 2006). Accordingly, trust has been theorized as more difficult to develop in these types of teams compared to traditional face to face teams. Using a computer simulation of a collaborative team task, this study examined how individuals in virtual teams integrate conflicting pieces of positive and negative information about a teammate into one overall rating of trust. Data were analyzed from 240 individuals to examine the influence of these behaviors on levels of trust toward a target teammate. Evidence of trust quickly developing and declining, i.e., the dynamic nature of trust, in a virtual team was observed. Secondly, the negativity effect was found, where a negative behavior was given more weight in ratings of trust than a positive behavior. Next, the hierarchically restrictive schema was offered as a plausible explanation for the negativity effect due to creating asymmetrical expectations of subsequent behavior based on an initially observed behavior. Lastly, a significant negativity effect was not found when the two behaviors were performed, one each, by a pair of unrelated persons or by a pair of related persons with entitativity.

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Psychology Commons