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The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More Paperback – September 22, 2015
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"[DeSteno] does an excellent job presenting evidence and deriving practical conclusions for how trust works in everyday life."
-Scientific American Mind
“Smart, fun, and informative, The Truth About Trust describes the most frightening, most wonderful, and most human thing we do: putting our fates in someone else's hands. This one's worth reading. Trust me.”
—Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Trusting others puts us at risk. Yet failure to trust entails risk as well. The ability to navigate through this minefield successfully is one of life’s most valuable assets. DeSteno provides by far the best account of what science has learned about how we do this. The Truth About Trust is also a terrific read.”
—Robert H. Frank, Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management at Cornell and bestselling author of The Economic Naturalist and The Darwin Economy
“The Truth About Trust tackles some of the most important and challenging issues in life. Psychologist David DeSteno takes a fresh look at fundamental questions, from gauging the trustworthiness of others to whether you can trust yourself.”
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
"Fresh insight into a necessary part of everyday life...In concise prose backed by engaging stories, the author addresses the pros and cons of common issues such as trusting a business transaction, using trust in learning situations and the need for trust in personal relationships."
About the Author
David DeSteno is a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he is director of the Social Emotions Group. He lives in Massachusetts.
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I think a better title for the book would be :Trustworthiness is an Event, not a Trait." DeSteno presents much evidence to support the view that many others share, namely, as E. O. Wilson puts it, there is a basic conflict between two of our evolved tendencies which cannot be resolved. We behave in self-serving ways for ourselves and our offsprings, yet, as social animals, we are dependent and need to serve others in our group. These roots of the conflict have defined human nature as well as the nature of other social mammals. Wilson goes on to observe that the Humanities are all about how these conflicts are managed. An important condition to keep in mind is that we all are less trustworthy when we are exhausted, both to others and ourselves.
The book is packed with psychological findings from research on trust and trustworthiness. I can mention a few that may whet your appetite for this book. Those of us who depend on others for our well-being are likely to be more trustworthy with them than those in higher socio-economic status and power. The old saying that power corrupts is all too true. Those of us who feel they have enough wealth and power to live the way suitable to themselves, as a rule, are not squeamish when it comes to lying and cheating, and are well aware they feel this way. Of course there are exceptions, but when one follows how American politicians express themselves, what accomplished liars they turn out to be. Of course much is rationalized in what they consider is best for us. When Eisenhower was caught lying about the U-2 flights, he was furious, not contrite.
Another subject of interest to all is how we manage lying to ourselves, say, with New Year's resolutions or following a diet. Inadvertently, we can cheat ourselves with sloppy management of the conflict in our natures. Also, the thought that being dependent on others for their goodwill is a valuable one. I think we all would like to be trustworthy to ourselves and others, and these dependencies can help keep us in line. I know I do not like to lie, and when it is socially necessary, I put care in not out right lying but in other dodges, including keeping my mouth shut. When faced with financial harm if I refused to sign a loyalty oath in the 50s, I signed, while inwardly despising such oaths. Does everyone have their price? At least, it is a good rule of thumb. We like to think not, but this is indeed naïve. We are conflicted; deal with it.
DeSteno does offer some advice in regard to trusting, so-called rules:
1. Trusting is risky but necessary, useful, and even powerful.
2. Trust pervades all life.
3. Don't examine reputation; examine motives.
4. Pay attention to hunches.
5. Appreciate the benefits of illusions– read the book as to why.
6. Cultivate trust from the bottom up, not top down "trust me."
In general, our hunches and intuition are likely provide more accurate information than conscious reflection, but both are needed for wise decisions.
I seldom read a book twice, this one is a exception.