“Trusting behavior is distinct from a more general tendency to take risks”
Trust is often described in terms of your willingness to make yourself vulnerable to others. It’s a type of risk-taking. But some recent research by Derfler-Rozin, Pillutla and Thau (gated PDF at OBDHP) adds to the evidence that trusting as social risk-taking is completely different from asocial (non-trust-related) risk taking.
They found that when people were made to worry about being socially excluded, they became risk-averse, shying away from risky plays in a game. But despite their risk-aversion, they became far more trusting in social versions of the same game: They didn’t like risk, but they would take lots of risks if it was seen as a way to build social connections with others.
Economists often see trust as simply a way of reducing the transaction costs associated with getting the material outcomes we need. But this research affirms that we also trust as a way of seeking social connections with others.