Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.
- Travis Bradberry
Trust as a topic has been studied by many disciplines across social sciences, such as economics, social psychology, and political science. This has led to a multifaceted view which can easily be seen in many definitions of trust.
For instance, Schilke and his colleagues claim that trust is the willingness of the trustor to become vulnerable to the trustee on the premise that the trustee will act in manner that benefits the trustor (1). Rousseau and her colleagues go further, describing trust as “a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another (2).”
The need for trust arises in decision making, as trust is a heuristic decision rule. It allows us to navigate complexities that otherwise would require impractical effort in rational reasoning (3).
Our interdependence with others also relies on trust as we seek to cooperate with others to realise certain outcomes we value. However, every cooperation carries a degree of risk in a sense that we might not get what we want or were expecting. Therefore, trust can be very useful in social interactions.
(1) Schilke, O., Reimann, M. and Cook, K.S. (2021) ‘Trust in Social Relations’, Annual Review of Sociology, 47(1), pp. 239–259. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-082120-082850.
(2) Rousseau, D. et al. (1998) ‘Not So Different After All: A Cross-discipline View of Trust’, Academy of Management Review, 23. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.1998.926617.
(3) Lewicki, R. and Brinsfield, C. (2011) ‘Framing trust: trust as a heuristic’, Framing Matters: Perspectives on Negotiation Research and Practice in Communication, pp. 110–135. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309107248