The Truth About Trust

I was reading this book when the Jian Ghomeshi scandal broke in Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Ghomeshi was fired recently after his employer, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, obtained information that Mr. Ghomeshi may have sexually assaulted several women. Without going into all the torrid details of the ongoing case, I can tell you I wasn’t alone in my shock, disbelief and horror.

Why? Because I had come to trust this voice that permeated my personal world on a daily basis. I thought I knew this person behind the radio, what he stood for, his morals, his ethics, and his views of women.

Trust can often involve betrayal as the author of The Truth About Trust, David DeSteno, PhD, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, is more than aware. He sees it as his mission to bring us the very latest of what science has learned about how we trust each other and why we don’t (or when we shouldn’t).  It was his goal in writing this book “to provide us with something of a user’s manual.”

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Trusting each other is better for everyone

"More can be achieved by working together than by working alone. That’s why we trust — plain and simple."
- The Truth About Trust, page 3

Throughout the book, the theme that scientific studies have shown, is even though there is always an element of risk associated with trust,  it is in our best interests as human beings to trust each other than not.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Trust is more than having integrity

"Trust is about integrity and competence —about wanting to do the right thing and being able to do it."
- The Truth About Trust, page 87

Often our first inclination may be to trust someone because they seem nice. In fact, when we are children we tend to learn best from those who are similar and comfortable to us. But as we age and move into adulthood we transition to seeking people who are highly competent and experts in their field. “[I]f you want to learn, find a teacher (mentor) you trust, not a teacher you like.”

Much of what his own research lab has been working on is showing that trust isn’t one-dimensional. There is more to being trustworthy then intending to be fair and honest.  So, when assessing if someone is to be trusted, the author suggests you not only take their integrity into consideration but their competence as well. Ask yourself if they have the skills and experience to do what they say they can do.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Trust and the internet

"If avatars can be tweaked to incorporate the features of a target person (or audience) information readily available from a Face book page, Twitter account, or Web cam—the user behind that avatar is already one step closer to garnering trust."
- The Truth About Trust, page 193

This has real life application when we try to decipher if that email from Aunt Vera asking for money is legitimate or not. Or when we hear that the fire wall has been breached and social security numbers were taken. Who can we trust online? To help us figure this out the author suggests that we don’t allow ourselves to be seduced by technology. Don’t assume that just because information comes from the computer that it is more valid than if it comes from a human. Have your ‘spidy sense’ activated when you are online. Don’t be fooled by a friendly, engaging photo that projects a trustful image.

So, having read Mr. DeStenos ‘user’s manual,’ I now have a different perspective on the whole Ghomeshi story. A good lesson for me on where to put my trust.

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Barb Brittain-Marshall

ABOUT Barb Brittain-Marshall

Barb Brittain-Marshall is addicted to reading. Seriously, it has become a bit of a problem. Stacks of books clutter her home. She fears an intervention is close at hand...
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