Trust and Shared Interests

Political Trust & Distrust 3

Free course. One paragraph (usually) per day.

Trust can be helpful.  Trust is an assessment we make that someone or some organization will, with high probability, act in ways that advance our interests fairly and impartially. Social trust relates to people, while political trust relates to the institutions of government.

Trust can be a big time-saver. One of the more important advantages of trust is freedom from monitoring: we spend a lot of time and energy monitoring people we do not trust.  That freedom allows us to interact with a wider group of people who might help us economically, socially, and politically.  Thus, a more trusting society is likely to be more productive and less stressed than a less trusting society.

Trust is not always and everywhere a good thing. Naive trust can expose us to high risks.  Distrust is generally, if not precisely, the opposite of trust. With distrust, there is a belief that someone or some organization will act unfairly and against our interests. Mistrust happens when we don’t have enough information to trust or distrust. Mistrust motivates us to pay attention. Together, trust, distrust, and mistrust assist us in navigating through a wide range of social and political relationships in a way that can increase our well-being and reduce our risks.

You might be interested to learn that distrust drove a lot of our Constitutional design. We take up that topic tomorrow. Or you can grab the whole thing here.

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