Trust is a tricky business.
On the one hand, it’s a necessary condition for many worthwhile things: child care, friendships, etc.
On the other hand, putting your faith, in the wrong place often carries a high price.
Then, why do we trust at all？ Well, because it feels good.
When people place their trust in an individual or an institution,
their brains release oxytocin,
a hormone that produces peasurable feelings and triggers the herding instruct that prompts humans to connect with one another.
Scientists have found that exposure to this hormone puts us in a trusting mood:
In a Swiss study, researchers sprayed oxytocin into the noses of half the subjects;
those subjects were ready to lend significantly higher amounts of money to strangers than were their counterparts who inhaled something else.
Lucky for us, we also have a sixth sense for dishonesty that may protect us.
A Canadian study found that children as young as 14 months can differentiate between a credible person and a dishonest one.
Sixty toddlers were each introduced to an adult tester holding a plastic container.
The tester would ask, “What’s in here?” before looking into the container,
smiling, and exclaiming, “Wow!” Each subject was then invited to look inside.
Half of them found a toy; the other half discovered the container was empty—and realized the tester had fooled them.
Among the children who had not been tricked,
the majority were willing to cooperate with the tester in learning a new skill,
demonstrating that they trusted his leadership.
In contrast, only five of the 30 children paired with the “unreliable” tester participated in a follow-up activity.