Trust Tidbits

More interesting bits of recent trust research to share with you:

Is low trust a symptom of psychotic illness?  No, you’re not suffering from psychosis just because you don’t trust people.  But relative to healthy control patients, both those with psychotic illness and their at-risk relatives have lower levels of trust.  And, those who suffer from psychotic illness have a hard time adjusting their trusting behaviour to suit the trustworthiness of the person they’re dealing with.  (Fett et al., 2012, Brain).

Do high trusters see fairness around them?  Why do people high in dispositional trust (the tendency to trust people in general) feel more committed to their work?  This recent study shows that high levels of trust lead people to view their work settings as having more procedural justice (fair processes), increasing their commitment.  And, because I know what you’re thinking, it’s not just because high-trusters are lucky enough to land in better, fairer workplaces.  The authors showed high- and low-trusters identical workplace scenarios, and found the same result:  High trusters saw the same workplaces as having more procedural justice than low trusters.  (Bianchi & Brockner, 2012, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes).

Does trust travel?  Trust varies a great deal between nations and cultures.  But when people immigrate, do they retain the trust norms of their country of origin, or adopt the trust norms of their adopted country?  In an interesting study carefully matching immigrants with very similar nonimmigrants, the authors find that the destination country has a “massive impact on trust”.  In other words, trust attitudes apparently don’t get packed in the suitcase when people move countries.  (Dinesen, 2012, Political Psychology).

When doesn’t joining clubs help build trust?  Voluntary associations (clubs, leagues, associations, etc.) are a cornerstone of social capital.  The more people belong to organizations, particularly ones that bridge together very different people, the more people tend to trust others outside their close circle of friends and family.  Except, some new research shows that inequality short-circuits this nice dynamic, and weakens the positive effects of civic engagement in voluntary associations.  Why?  “When a society experiences a high level of income inequality,” the authors explain, “social distances between economic groups are so wide that even members of a voluntary association would be divided along economic lines, thus nullifying connecting effect of group activities.”  (Park & Subramanian, 2012, Social Forces).

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