The Truth About Trust | David DeSteno

Summary of: The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More
By: David DeSteno


Embark on a journey to uncover the complex and fascinating world of trust in ‘The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More’ by David DeSteno. This book summary delves into the essence of trust, exploring the reasons why we trust, its necessary role in obtaining resources and forging collaborations, and its physiological basis. Moreover, you will discover how trust starts to develop from an early age, how it plays a fundamental role in romantic relationships and is affected by socioeconomic status, and how self-trust can be as unpredictable as trusting others. Finally, you will learn the importance of context and technology in interpreting trustworthiness cues and the impact it has on our virtual interactions.

Rewards and Risks of Trusting Others

Trusting others is a gamble that opens up great rewards. This trust is necessary as it helps in getting resources and benefits that we cannot obtain on our own. Evolutionary instincts of seeking communal and individual rewards continually shape these decisions. These urges may drive towards selfish short-term gains or more cooperative changes for longer-term relationships, but the risks of being betrayed are always present. Nonetheless, the benefits of cooperation are significant, making trust worthwhile.

The Physiology of Trust

Trust is not just a cognitive process, it is physiologically based. Humans and primates have vagus nerves that run from the brain to the chest which impact trust. Only when this nerve activates can we feel trust towards others. Hormones like oxytocin also affect trust. Unfair and untrustworthy behavior activates our primal instinct, causing us to refuse offers that are seen as unfair. This instinct is not just human, monkeys also hate unfairness and will react fiercely when they see inequality.

Trust in Children

Children are not as gullible as we think. Due to their vulnerability, even infants can discern whom they can rely on. The minds of children calculate whom they can trust. Infants differentiate between good and mean puppets, revealing their sense of trust. Children decide whom to trust based on adults’ competence. They tend to ask more questions to a competent adult who has not made mistakes compared to the one who has. Children’s minds categorize adults as trustworthy or not almost from birth, which affects their learning outcomes.

The Importance of Trust in Love

All forms of adult relationships involve mutual dependence, but trust is crucial when it comes to love. From an evolutionary perspective, trustworthiness in a co-parent is more important than anyone else. Two parents raising a child exponentially increases its chances of survival, making trust a natural requirement. Recent studies demonstrate that trust is still a fundamental aspect of modern romantic relationships, leading to greater collaboration, sacrifice, and appreciation. Moreover, high levels of trust promote general well-being, offering economic, social, physiological, and psychological benefits. Therefore, establishing a trusted relationship with a romantic partner is crucial for a satisfying and fulfilling life.

The Link Between Wealth and Selfishness

Individuals with high socioeconomic status, characterized by power, influence, and wealth, are more likely to be selfish and untrustworthy. Research shows that they are less dependent on others, leading to a disregard for the trust placed in them, as observed in an experiment where drivers of expensive cars were likelier to break the law by cutting off pedestrians. Trust games also revealed that higher socioeconomic status individuals were less likely to trust others and were more risk-averse. This phenomenon highlights the disconnect between wealth and social responsibility, revealing the need for a critical examination of the ethics surrounding economic status.

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