Wednesday, 5 June 2013

IX) Trust Me



reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
confident expectation of something; hope.
confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
a person on whom, or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.
the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.

How important is trust?
Well, the answer to that depends on each person and each circumstance. I am sure you could assume on your own there is no umbrella answer, like "trust is more important than shoes but less important then love." No. It doesn't even feature within Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs until at least the second tier - so it is not a basic need, but more of an instinct or decision if you will.
Surely we weren't born with it? If we were, would we cry to be fed? To be changed? If we trusted these things were going to happen we would have no need. We were born with survival instincts - "the squeakiest wheel gets the oil." We had no preconceptions that anyone would feel obliged to give us anything, so we screamed for it until we were sated, safe and warm, and all our base needs were met.

Wise words? Or a pessimistic view?
Some scholars believe that trust is an innate behavioural intention - an internal action, similar to how we judge situations or choose favourites. Our subconscious weighs up all the information we know about something or someone and makes an informed decision based on the risk factor or emotions surrounding that object/person. 
However other scholars propose that trust is synonymous with trustworthiness. First, we need to receive proof of something or someone's ability to be trusted before we put our trust in them. Until that trust is broken we have no reason to believe they are untrustworthy.
For example: you trust that if you take a breath, air will fill your lungs and you will be able to breathe. Unless your lungs fail you, or you find yourself in a situation where there is no air you do not distrust this concept. It is a given because you have had proof from your very first breath of air that when you inhale, oxygen will be there.

As children, in the very beginning we trust the things we are told by the adults in our lives. Santa Claus exists; if we watch too much TV our eyes will go square. It is not until we come up against an instance where our previous understanding is inconsistent with our expectations that we begin to question their ability to 'always get it right'.

My first memory regarding trust is the moment I lost faith in God. I had always believed up until this moment that if you were good and prayed for something, God would listen. When my pet rat fell sick with cancer I prayed so hard to this "God" I didn't truly understand that she would recover. I had already lost my best friend to suicide, and the rat (as sad as it may seem) was the only thing filling the hole my friend had left behind.
Nevertheless, the rat died and I felt angry and mislead. Of course it was a part of nature (rats only live on average three years, and it was bound to happen sooner or later), but I think this was my first revelation that the world isn't always fair. Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people - if you can trust in anything, you can trust in that.

Are you there, God?

So, if trust is such an elusive ideal, why must it be a fundamental part of all our relationships and dealings with others in adulthood? How do we know who and what is worthy of our trust?
What is the difference between being trusting and being naive? Do we even need trust to get by in life?

From what I can establish, for trust to occur we need to take into account several factors:
a) The trustee's ability to trust: Have they had any experience in trusting before, and have they had failures of trust that may lead to an inability to place faith in something/someone?
b) The object of trust: Does it display characteristics of trustworthiness? Is there tangible proof that this object of trust is going to behave in a predictable manner, or is there a large amount of risk involved?

It seems as though there are two popular beliefs as far as trust goes. Either we a) are taught about  trustworthiness by an object of trust, and establish a feeling of security/build trust this way; or b) we subconsciously size up situations and put our faith in things that 'feel' right - if we perceive no logical reason to distrust them, we don't.
Obviously both theories have flaws, however I lean in favour of idea a).
I think as newborns we have no trust, and it is only through conditioning that we learn to rely on certain things and people. We form bonds and attachments to the things we can trust, and are wary or upset by irregularities in our lives.

Extensive research shows that children may have a more solid upbringing with routine and predictability. Rules they can easily understand and follow, and consequences they can predict are conducive to a happy state of being.
It therefore makes sense that we form stronger attachments to people we trust, and why product loyalty and customer loyalty are integral to the success of corporations and businesses. Most will work hard to keep customers happy, as unhappy consumers will go elsewhere.

Relationships without trust are like baking without a recipe!

Relationships can be messy and unpredictable! If we cannot predict the outcome of our actions, disaster often strikes. 
To trust someone that has demonstrated no signs of trustworthiness could be deemed naive. Ask someone why they believe in God, or why they trust their car to get them from A to B. I guarantee they will declare something along the lines of "Because I have never been let down by (them) before," or "I see no reason not to."
If your car is prone to breaking down periodically for no obvious reason, or God has not met your expectations of Him, then you are less likely to 'trust' in either situation. Why would you?

I feel like trust is an essential part of human relations. 
Even if we have no legitimate reason to doubt or mistrust something or someone, we still know of or hear of plenty of reasons why we shouldn't believe blindly.
My friends may be faithful and loyal, but yours may have sold your soul to the devil for a nickel. Yet, until my own friends let me down I choose to trust them. Why is that?
Whether we are putting our faith in a person or a product, an object or an idea, we need to feel like we can predict the outcome. We need to know that the likelihood of being let down is minimal - our well-being is dependent on it.
If we cannot trust in anyone or anything then we would live a very guarded and small life.
"Trust also allows the development of a more effective exchange relationship between the trustor and trustee (Blau, 1964), which encourages more beneficial performance behaviours"
After reading through many articles on trust, trust issues and the psychology of trust, it appears that it all boils down to gut instinct and experience. Your ability to trust is directly related to the trustworthiness of the object/person, and your past experiences.
If you have had your trust broken, you may doubt your ability to judge trustworthiness - or perhaps you may doubt the trustworthiness of the things you once deemed to be sound. 
Trust is a combination of our emotions and our cognitive reasoning and judgement - if either one of these is impaired in some way our ability to trust will likely be impaired too.
If you have been hurt emotionally you may feel too vulnerable to trust, even if someone appears to be completely trustworthy. The risk factor may be too high for you, as the consequences of being hurt again outweigh the confidence you have in your judgement abilities.

So who can be affected by broken trust? Who is more likely to be trusting or trustworthy?

"People with a high/low propensity to trust tend to share certain personality traits and characteristics. Factors that have been found to influence trust propensity include:  
- Level of extroversion/neuroticism – people with high
extroversion (i.e. outgoing/energetic) and low
neuroticism (i.e. secure/confident) tend to be more

- Participation in religion – some studies have found
religious participants to have higher trust levels than

- Family interaction – parents who keep the majority
of their promises and are more trusting of their child
are likely to have children with a higher trust

- Gender – in some studies men have reported higher
levels of trust in formal institutions and governments
when compared to women
Factors which influence trust:
Holding positive expectations of a specific trustee (e.g. a
named individual, group or organisation) depends on their
perceived trustworthiness. Three core characteristics that
inspire trustworthiness are:
- Ability
- Benevolence
- Integrity"

 Although some people are more prone to trust or distrust, trustworthiness or being untrustworthy, we all have dealings in trust at some point in our lives - and most of us encounter it many times.
I guess all we can do is accept that we will not get it right 100% of the time. Things and/or people we have chosen to trust implicitly in the past can turn out to be a mistake in judgement - especially people, who are known to be rather unpredictable at the best of times.
It is hard to get back on the horse once we have fallen off - however we cannot let this stop us from rebuilding the ability to trust, and in turn miss out on the benefits that the concept of trust gives us, e.g. peace of mind, and more enriching and beneficial relationships. 

tldr; Trust is convoluted and complex, but it is good for us. It is worth rebuilding when it is broken, and as long as you use common sense you can usually avoid most pot holes. Don't be disheartened if you do get knocked down, because not everything in life is predictable. The important thing is that you tried, and you can try again. A life without trust is a life without colour. Don't give up just yet!

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