Friday, 10 September 2021

Trust and happiness

The intersection between trust and happiness is an interesting one. 

Trust is a “willingness to be vulnerable [, with…] positive expectations that [our] interests will be protected and promoted when monitoring is not possible". With regard to that 'monitoring', we are watchful. We need to be, because often, in new groups, our survival can depend upon it. We need to be able to evaluate "others' intentions, sincerity, motivations, character, reliability, and integrity", before we can allow ourselves to be fully vulnerable (Burke et al., 2007; p. 610).

That ability to be able to be vulnerable "evolves over the course of a relationship through repeated interactions and a history of reciprocity […]. Therefore, for the purposes of the current effort, trust is defined as 'a psychological state comprising of the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behaviors of another' " (Burke et al., 2007, p. 610). Our willingness to be vulnerable evolves over time as we repeat our relationship interactions and create  a "history of reciprocity" (Burke et al., 2007, p. 610). In other words: the more we do it, the better we get at it. Just like riding a bike.

Trust might be viewed as “as something that needs protection 'just as much as the air we breathe or the water we drink. When [trust is] damaged, the community as a whole suffers; . . . when . . . destroyed, societies falter and collapse'" (Nicholson, 1998, p. 584).

Happiness has been explored in terms of an absence of pain; as the presence of beauty, and is known not to be universal; then defined as "overall appreciation of one’s life as–a–whole" (Veenhoven, 2010, p. 329). As Veenhoven suggests, we can consider happiness as the same as "life satisfaction", or "well-being" (2010, p. 329). What starts to get really interesting is when Veenhoven splits happiness into two halves: how we feel (hedonistic affect), and how we think (our mental gap analysis between what we have and what we want). Veenhoven calls this gap between our heart and our head "contentment" (2010). Nice. 

So when world rankings are being done, how content we are is significantly affected by how much trust we have built into our societies. If we don't feel safe, don't trust our societies, we are unlikely to be able to develop great levels of contentment. Societies with high trust levels tend to have high happiness levels. For example, the image accompanying this post shows the happiness level of nations in 2015-16 (Gallup, 2016). New Zealand and Australia both have a large percentage of their population who are 'happy', yet neither of us hold a candle to Costa Rica or UAE for just how brightly we shine with happiness. 

You also might find an interesting site to visit. 



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