“Trust is the glue that binds civilization together. Without trust, there can be no commerce, no social order, and no peace. Trust is the lubricant that makes it possible for disparate individuals, groups, and nations to cooperate with one another.” — Robert J. Shiller
We all know that trust is not something quickly earned. It’s what allows humans to cooperate in unprecedented ways in the animal kingdom.
Without it, we wouldn’t trade, build cities, or share knowledge. Trust is the foundation of civilization because there would be no way to live together and thrive as a society without it.
What happens when our trust is destroyed? What happens when people don’t have any? How do we rebuild it for future generations?
Trust is not lost in a day. It takes time and a series of events to lose it. We need to be aware that we are not in a static world, and things change all the time.
Trust is the most underestimated human emotion. It is the feeling of security, reliance, or faith in someone or something. Trust can be seen as a measure of expectation and reliance on someone or something.
Trust can be broken down into three main categories:
Subjective trust: the degree to which you trust another person/group/product based on your own opinion
Objective trust: the degree to which others say they would trust that person/group/product
Knowledge-based trust: the degree to which you know about that person/group/product and are confident in their abilities
Everything we do is a matter of trust
Various factors contribute to our level of trust for someone, including experience with them, how well we know them, how much information they provide us with, etc.
In a society, we are making decisions that involve trust. Every time you decide to go for dinner in the new restaurant down the street or make an investment in something without doing your research beforehand — you’re placing trust elsewhere.
We also experience moments where our integrity is at stake, and we need to ask ourselves: “Can I trust myself to do the right thing?”
The human brain is hardwired for trust. The amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear and anxiety, also helps us process trust.
When we experience something that makes us fearful or anxious (such as being in an unsafe environment), our amygdala becomes active and inhibits our ability to trust others.
Civilization relies on how we trust each other
Trust is the foundation of our society. We trust our friends, family, and even strangers in the street. Trust is an integral part of how we function in society.
Trust is important because it allows us to cooperate with other people. This cooperation can lead to more efficient economies and better social outcomes for everyone involved.
We need trust to maintain social cooperation, which leads to more significant economic benefits for all involved. If we do not have trust, no one will want to trade with others.
There is a reason why we are taught at an early age that it’s important to “play nice” even if you don’t like someone else: society needs us all to cooperate for the economy and division of labor to function efficiently.
We need people who can predict what others will do to plan accordingly. This makes cooperation easier because everyone knows exactly what they’re getting into when entering into agreements with each other.
Without trust, we cannot have cooperation, and with it comes a multitude of problems. When there is no trust in society, people will not want to share the information, which means businesses won’t function independently or use the information they already know about something.
If people are unwilling to cooperate, no one can work together towards common goals such as building cities. This lack of cooperation could lead to our civilization’s downfall because those who choose to cooperate may find themselves at odds when others exploit them for personal gain instead of honoring good faith agreements between parties involved.
Political systems like democracy rely on trust. Voters must vote for someone they believe will make better decisions on their behalf than they would be able to make on their own. For this trust to form, citizens need to know about the candidates running for office.
When it comes to our economy, we rely on trust to function smoothly. For example, when you go shopping at your local grocery store, you trust that the employees will not steal from you and that the food is safe to eat. You’re also trusting that the prices listed are accurate and that you’re getting a fair deal.
Businesses also need to trust their employees for things to run. If companies can’t trust their employees, they may have problems such as theft or fraud. This hurts everyone involved because the business has to raise prices to make up for the lost money.
It’s not businesses that need to trust one another, but countries. For two countries to trade with each other, they must trust that they will follow through on their end of the bargain. This can be difficult if there is a lot of distrust between the two countries.
It’s essential to understand how trust works so that we can rebuild it when it’s destroyed. We need to be proactive because rebuilding trust is not easy — it takes time and effort from both parties involved. It’s worth it, though, because a society without trust is doomed to fail.
People worldwide have lost confidence in their governments, authorities, leaders, and even teachers. The worst has been losing faith in one another and even oneself. Do you feel that you’ve lost trust in anything or someone? How does this affect you? I’d want to hear from you in the comments!
This article was first published in Bottomline Conversations.