The Truth About Trust

Summary Written by Barb Brittain-Marshall

The Big Idea

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

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.

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Insight #2

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.

Read the book

Get The Truth About Trust on Amazon.

David Desteno

David DeSteno is professor of psychology at Northeastern University where he directs the Social Emotions Group. He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and serves as editor-in-chief for the American Psychological Association’s journal Emotion. His work has been repeatedly funded by the National Science Foundation, and his first book (Out of Character, with Piercarlo Valdesolo) was a Wall Street Journal Psychology Spotlight bestseller. He has written about his research for major media outlets such as the New York Times and Boston Globe, and his work has been regularly featured by others in similar outlets (e.g., The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, NPR, CBS Sunday Morning).

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