What distinguishes trustworthy people | STERN.de

Why we trust some people more than others

It depends, among other things, on the characteristics why we classify a person as trustworthy.

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In everyday situations, we also trust unknown people – some more and some less. Why we trust whom and what distinguishes trustworthy people.

We rely on the fellow passenger on the train to look after our bag, that a new cat sitter takes good care of our velvet paws or that the taxi driver takes us safely to our destination. In many situations of our everyday life we ​​also trust strangers.

At first glance, this seems rather unreasonable – but we all do it every day. And we need it. Trust acts as a lubricant in society and enables us to act and cooperate with each other. But why do we actually trust and how can trustworthy people be recognized.

Trust is always a risk

“Trust is always a risk. I give up control and rely on the other person to behave in a friendly manner towards me,” psychologist Isabel Thielmann told “Spektrum”. Anyone who trusts dares and accepts the risk that their trust will be abused. Nevertheless, it is very important that we trust other people. “If you can’t trust, you have more problems. If I never rely on others, I can hardly build social bonds and that puts me at a disadvantage.”

In research, there are two possible explanations for why we also trust strangers. First, it’s mutual benefit – so we assume it’s mutually beneficial, and second, we trust other people because we think it’s expected of us.

In a 2018 study, researchers showed that we are more likely to judge people to be trustworthy if they look like us. Likewise, there are certain qualities that characterize trustworthy people. This includes:

consequence – someone sticks to what they promise.

decisions and motives – they are displayed transparently.

cooperative – Respond to suggestions from others.

selflessness – Putting the interests of others ahead of your own.

conscientiousness – a person always completes tasks carefully.

compatibility – People who are agreeable are usually very helpful and have a very altruistic attitude.

trustworthiness and guilt

Researchers have also found that our feelings of guilt are an important factor in determining a person’s trustworthiness. More specifically, it’s about the tendency to expect guilt about wrongdoing. The team led by scientist Emma Levine describes this as susceptibility to guilt. This tendency is a strong predictor of trustworthy people. The scientists write: “When deciding who to trust, one should trust the guilt-prone.”

A trustworthy person can be recognized to some extent by their characteristics. However, depending on the situation, it can also be important to assess a person’s intentions and assess their competence.

Sources: Psychology Today,spectrum, Study Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, study PNAS

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