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The Truth About Trust

How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More

By David DeSteno
15-minute read
Audio available
The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More by David DeSteno

The Truth About Trust not only explores what trust exactly means, but also how it impacts almost every single aspect of our everyday lives. The author’s own extensive research and progressive experiments from the fields of psychology, economics and biology reveal the surprising ways in which trust deeply matters.

  • Anyone interested in the the crucial role trust plays in the psychology of relationships
  • Anyone who wants to learn how they can better detect another person’s trustworthiness
  • Anyone wondering about the origins of social emotions like trust

Professor David DeSteno directs the Social Emotions Research Group at Northeastern University. He also co-authored Out of Character, a Wall Street Journal psychology bestseller.

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The Truth About Trust

How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More

By David DeSteno
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More by David DeSteno
Synopsis

The Truth About Trust not only explores what trust exactly means, but also how it impacts almost every single aspect of our everyday lives. The author’s own extensive research and progressive experiments from the fields of psychology, economics and biology reveal the surprising ways in which trust deeply matters.

Key idea 1 of 9

Trust allows people to work together towards greater rewards – but short-term benefits of betrayal are always tempting.

Every day we make decisions based on trust: if a friend wants to borrow $100, do you give it to her? Yes, you like her, but you haven’t known her long – will you ever get your money back? This risk is the whole essence of trust: when you trust someone, you take a gamble that they won’t only indulge their short-term selfish desires, but also think of the long-term relationship you build together.

So why do we trust?

Because, despite being risky, trusting others can bring great rewards.

Trust is necessary to get resources and benefits we can’t obtain on our own. We achieve more by working together than by working alone, which results in financial, physical and social gains.

For instance, we send our kids to school, trusting that someone else will give them a good education so we can focus on earning money.

But we are also hard-wired to be drawn to “selfish” short-term individual rewards.

In fact, our minds are always balancing opportunities for short-term selfish gains, like cheating on a fiancé to have an exciting fling, against longer-term communal ones, like resisting short-term temptation and opting for a less-exciting but loving long-term relationship.

These urges are due to evolution: we have evolved to be reproductively prosperous “winners” – not saints who always do the right thing.

In prehistoric times, the world was filled with dangers, so life expectancy was short, and our ancestors didn’t think much about the long term. This has left us with a penchant for occasionally disregarding long-term relationships in favor of selfish short-term behavior – especially when we know we won’t be caught.

But evolution also exerted another influence: once humans started to live in tribes, they saw the benefits of cooperation. It became clear that those who helped others – who helped those people in return – were better off in the long run because it benefited both parties.

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