This is a bit of a departure from our usual data, tech, and behavioral marketing oriented subjects.
Over the last month the topics of truth and trust have received a lot of press. Whatever your political persuasion, we can likely agree that a lack of truth erodes the public trust – and a lack of trust is definitely bad to society as a whole.
According to this new blog post by behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, “Trust is one of the most important, yet least understood, forces. It is a force that can drive society forward, and in the case of mistrust, backward.”
Dan recently gave a 15-minute TED Talk on the basic elements of trust and how to build trust. Here’s a YouTube link to watch it.
In it he shows a number of games used in behavioral science research: the Public Good Game, the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game, and the Trust Game. He draws some interesting conclusions from them.
Interestingly, much of what economists call “rational” behavior is actually pretty selfish. But it is in our human “irrationality” that we tend to be altruistic, and thus promote truth and trust. Three key factors to building, maintaining and restoring trust:
• Long-Term Relationships
• Building Reputation
• Fear of Revenge
The good news is that we as humans have a tremendous capacity for trust. The frustrating news: On an individual level we can actually gain by being mistrustful, while our society loses.
To divert a bit: This brings to mind the “Monkey Trap” – where the monkey sticks his hand through a small hole in a trap to grab some rice. His psychological inability to let go of that rice is what makes it impossible for him to withdraw his hand, and he is doomed.
Here’s a brief article from The Guardian about avoiding the Monkey Trap in our daily lives. It cautions us to not only be aware of our own expertise, but of the ignorance that lies beyond it. And “if we don’t stay aware of it, can make a monkey out of any of us.”