Trust or Trustworthiness?
When searching for ideas for our forthcoming book about Information & Feelings, a sequel to Positive & Negative in the serie Thinkibility – Thinking about Thinking, Creativity Innovation and Design we stumbled on a broad range of emotions and feelings.
If you search this blog on keywords like emotion, feelings and intuition you will find some noteworthy explorations of what Edward de Bono calls Red Hat Thinking. Today we will explore the social construct of trust.
In our opinion trust is basically a non-rational phenomena, yet not irrational, nevertheless, it should be carefully handled.
Wikipedia describes Trust as “One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee); the situation is directed to the future. In addition, the trustor (voluntarily or forcefully) abandons control over the actions performed by the trustee. As a consequence, the trustor is uncertain about the outcome of the other’s actions; he can only develop and evaluate expectations. The uncertainty involves the risk of failure or harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave as desired.”
Trust plays an important, perhaps decisive role in relations between people and groups, but also in the relation to governments, institutions, judges. Often it is said that economic growth relies heavily on how traders trust each other. Trust even plays a role in dealing with material artifacts and technology. By trusting someone we can rely on her, allowing us to concentrate our actions and thinking on other subjects. Trust is a tool for efficiency and specialization.
Nowadays there is a moral call for Rebuilding Trust. There has even been a TEDx conference around this theme organized by the Radboud University in the Netherlands. For an overview of the variety on subjects and the speakers, look here.
But we came across a much more constructive term when we are discussing the concept of Trust. It is about Trusthworthiness. In general, in order for trust to be earned, worth and integrity must be proven over time.
A good overview of standard thinking and misconceptions about trust is given by Onora O’Neill in her TEDx presentation “What we don’t understand about trust”. Strongly recommended notwithstanding the sometime what boring way of presentation. Watch it.
Trust is not about attitudes. It is about judgement. It is about giving usable evidence that one is trustworthy.