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Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust and Trustworthiness

Russell Hardin
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Trust and Trustworthiness
    Book Description:

    What does it mean to "trust?" What makes us feel secure enough to place our confidence-even at times our welfare-in the hands of other people? Is it possible to "trust" an institution? What exactly do people mean when they claim to "distrust" their governments? As difficult as it may be to define, trust is essential to the formation and maintenance of a civil society. InTrust and Trustworthinesspolitical scientist Russell Hardin addresses the standard theories of trust and articulates his own new and compelling idea: that much of what we call trust can be best described as "encapsulated interest."

    Research into the roles of trust in our society has offered a broad range of often conflicting theories. Some theorists maintain that trust is a social virtue that cannot be reduced to strategic self-interest; others claim that trusting another person is ultimately a rational calculation based on information about that person and his or her incentives and motivations. Hardin argues that we place our trust in persons whom we believe to have strong reasons to act in our best interests. He claims that we are correct when we assume that the main incentive of those whom we trust is to maintain a relationship with us-whether it be for reasons of economic benefit or for love and friendship. Hardin articulates his theory using examples from a broad array of personal and social relationships, paying particular attention to explanations of the development of trusting relationships. He also examines trustworthiness and seeks to understand why people may behave in ways that violate their own self-interest in order to honor commitments they have made to others. The book also draws important distinctions between vernacular uses of "trust" and "trustworthiness," contrasting, for example, the type of trust (or distrust) we place in individuals with the trust we place in institutions

    Trust and Trustworthinessrepresents the culmination of important new research into the roles of trust in our society; it offers a challenging new voice in the current discourse about the origins of cooperative behavior and its consequences for social and civic life.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-271-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. About the Author
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. Chapter 1 Trust
    (pp. 1-27)

    Usually, to say that I trust you in some context simply means that I think you will be trustworthy toward me in that context. Hence to ask any question about trust is implicitly to ask about the reasons for thinking the relevant party to be trustworthy. In chapter 2, I canvass some of the potentially many reasons for thinking someone trustworthy. One of the most important and commonplace istrust as encapsulated interest, which I discuss in this chapter. On this account, I trust you because I think it is in your interest to take my interests in the relevant...

  7. Chapter 2 Trustworthiness
    (pp. 28-53)

    The great importance of trust in ordinary life can be read in the massive role it plays in great literature—or, rather, the role that betrayal of trust plays. Trust may be second only to love as a plot line and motivator, and even half of the power of love as a plot line is in the eventual betrayal of it. Betrayal is, of course, not a failure of trust but a failure of trustworthiness. It is odd therefore that in academic writings—both philosophical and social scientific—the focus is heavily on trust rather than on trustworthiness (but see...

  8. Chapter 3 Conceptions and Misconceptions
    (pp. 54-88)

    Strategically, trust interactions can take varied forms. Two of the most important are the iterated one-way trust game and the mutual trust interaction of iterated exchange or prisoner’s dilemma. In these models of some trust relationships, trust is clearly a reductive term, a three-part relation, and a cognitive—not behavioral—term. Some discussions of trust implicitly or explicitly assume away one of more of these conditions, and in this they are often, though not always, conceptually confused. I canvass these conditions in the first part of this chapter. Readers who are not concerned with alternative accounts can readily skip this...

  9. Chapter 4 Distrust
    (pp. 89-112)

    If the evidence sometimes leads to trust, then it can also sometimes lead to distrust. Indeed, on the cognitive account of trust as a category of knowledge, we can go further to say the following: If, on your own knowledge, I seem to be trustworthy to some degree with respect to some matter, then you do trust me with respect to that matter. Similarly, if I seem to be untrustworthy, then you do distrust me. There is no act of choosing to trust or distrust—your knowledge or beliefs about me constitute your degree of trust or distrust of me....

  10. Chapter 5 The Epistemology of Trust
    (pp. 113-132)

    If we wish to understand trust for real people, we will have to understand the capacity for trust, which is the capacity to read the commitments of others, a capacity that must largely be learned. Hence we must understand trust from the commonsense epistemology of the individual in a position to trust or distrust. One cannot simply start trusting people as of tomorrow. When I meet someone new with whom I wish or have to deal, I may start with considerable skepticism. Of course, my skepticism will not primarily be directed at the new person in particular. I may not...

  11. Chapter 6 Managing Trust
    (pp. 133-150)

    There are many questions we might wish to ask about how trust relationships come to be and why they last or fail. I wish to discuss three general stages of this range of problems: How do individuals come to be optimistic enough to risk the cooperation that often leads to trust? How do they initiate trust relationships with others? How do they maintain the relationships they have once started? The first of these questions is complementary to the discussion of learning in chapter 5, but here I focus on the psychology of cooperativeness as it might be determined by psychological...

  12. Chapter 7 Trust and Government
    (pp. 151-172)

    A large and growing literature focuses on the theses that, if it is to function at all well, government needs the trust of its citizens and that such trust is now declining in the United States and in certain other nations. Hence there is a crisis of trust. At most, this claim is misstated. It should, rather, be made merely about confidence in government’s actions and policies. I argue that, in any strong sense of trust, trust in government is not a major consideration in the working of a modern society. A claim to trust government is typically implausible if...

  13. Chapter 8 Trust and Society
    (pp. 173-200)

    We are concerned with trust and trustworthiness because they enable us to cooperate for mutual benefit.Cooperation is the prior and central concern. There are manifold instances of cooperation that need not and quite likely do not involve trust. Trust is merely one reason for confidence in taking cooperative risks, and trustworthiness is merely one reason such risks can pay off. In the large contemporary literature on trust, the clear point of wanting more trust is that trust eases the way to cooperative social relations (Luhmann 1980; Putnam 1993; Fukuyama 1995; and many others). Similarly, much of recent experimental work...

  14. Appendix: Survey Questions on Trust
    (pp. 201-202)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 203-216)
  16. References
    (pp. 217-226)
  17. Index
    (pp. 227-234)