Imagine that someone gives you and your partner a bill of 100 PLN. You can either keep this money for yourself or give it to your partner, knowing that they also have those two options. One of them is taking money for themselves and the second one is sharing half of it with you. Once the cash is passed on to the partner its value will increase four times. Would you decide to invest in trust towards your partner? Your wife? A stranger on the street?
The situation described above is a procedure used in studies on trust. The most rational choice from the point of view of the economy of behavior seems to be the egoistic decision which has a guaranteed profit. Yet, humans are social animals and social life is based on the principle of trust. Surprisingly enough, people taking part in the game decide to take the risky step which is to trust the other person and entrust their capital to them.
Obviously trust depends on such factors as the context, how well we know the person, to what extent we are tolerant to risk, the way we perceive the competence of the other person and their predictability, even physical resemblance or similar interests.
Trust is a dynamic process. Our reliability is constantly tested. It is not enough to have the reputation of being trustworthy. The loss of trust due to one disappointment can be much greater than many proofs of loyalty
What can save trust is forgiveness. Long term relationships are based on the policy of forgiveness. This is linked to a great effort put into overcoming one’s uncertainty, anger and the readiness to give someone another chance. This is only possible if we are able to believe in the good intentions of other people. No matter what are the mistakes made by other, the ability to empathize with their situation and understand the context of their behavior allows for the restoration of even the most damaged relationship.
Trust depends on both sides of the conflict. The person who has let their partner down could balance the disappointment by making an extra investment in the other person. This can mean investing time in an activity which might not be interesting for you but you know that will be enjoyed by the partner or a financial investment in terms of higher shares.
In order to stop this self-propelled wheel of mutual disappointments, you need to make sacrifices, show readiness to amend and forgive. This is not easy but worth the price. In order to restore the relationship one needs to get rid of the natural human habit of “expecting the worst” which from the point of view of evolution protects us from the dangers in the natural environment.
In today’s world based on cooperation and human relationships trust is the best investment which we can make in every sphere of life.