Onora O'Neill: What we don't understand about trust | Summary and Q&A

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Onora O'Neill: What we don't understand about trust

TL;DR

This content challenges the common views on trust, arguing that trustworthiness is more important than trust itself.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are the three common views people have about trust?

The three common views that people have about trust are a claim, an aim, and a task. The claim suggests that there has been a great decline in trust, which is widely believed. The aim suggests that we should have more trust, while the task suggests that we should rebuild trust.

Q: Is there evidence to support the claim that trust has declined?

When looking at opinion polls across time, there is not much evidence to support the claim that trust has declined. The people who were trusted and mistrusted 20 years ago remain relatively the same. The level of trust in different individuals or institutions can vary based on their specific roles or capabilities.

Q: What is a more intelligent aim than having more trust?

A more intelligent aim is to have more trust in the trustworthy and to not trust the untrustworthy. It is important to intelligently place and refuse trust based on the trustworthiness of individuals. More trust is not necessarily a wise goal, but rather, trustworthiness should be the focus.

Q: What factors should be considered when judging trustworthiness?

When judging trustworthiness, it is important to consider three factors: competence, honesty, and reliability. If a person is competent, honest, and reliable in the relevant matters, there is a good reason to trust them. However, if there are concerns about their reliability or honesty, trust may not be warranted.

Q: Why do opinion polls often provide inaccurate information about the level of trust?

Opinion polls can provide inaccurate information about the level of trust because they focus on generic attitudes and do not consider the differentiated way that trust is placed in real life. Trust is not a uniform assumption made for every instance or type of person. Placing trust requires intelligence and judgment rather than relying solely on opinions recorded in polls.

Q: What is the proper aim when it comes to trust?

The proper aim when it comes to trust is to focus on trustworthiness rather than trust itself. Trust is a response, while trustworthiness is what needs to be judged. The aim should be to determine the trustworthiness of individuals or institutions based on their competence, honesty, and reliability.

Q: What evidence can be provided to demonstrate trustworthiness?

To demonstrate trustworthiness, it is important to make oneself vulnerable to others. By providing usable evidence that one is trustworthy, such as being open to feedback or offering refunds without asking questions, trust can be built. It is essential to give others the basis for giving their trust, which requires being trustworthy and providing simple yet effective evidence of trustworthiness.

Q: What should we prioritize when thinking about trust?

Rather than focusing excessively on trust itself or opinions about trust, we should prioritize being trustworthy. The key is to cultivate relationships where people can judge each other's trustworthiness and have confidence in their interactions. Trust is a byproduct of being reliable, competent, and honest, and providing tangible evidence of trustworthiness is crucial in building trust.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The standard views on trust are misconceived. The belief in a decline in trust is not supported by evidence from opinion polls, and the aim should not be to have more trust in general, but to have more trust in the trustworthy.

  • Trustworthiness should be prioritized over trust. Judging a person's competence, honesty, and reliability is crucial in determining their trustworthiness, and trust should be a response to this judgment.

  • The task is not to rebuild trust, but to make oneself trustworthy. Trust is given by others and cannot be controlled by individuals. Being vulnerable and providing usable evidence of trustworthiness are important factors in building trust.

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