Trust, Rationality, and Social Structure

Project Date:
Nov 1999
Award Amount:
Project Programs:

Most studies of trust focus upon the faith one person places in another, based on their past interactions with them. Piotr Swistak of the University of Maryland received an award to develop a new model of trust, focusing not on the faith we put in another person, but on the faith we put in third party advice about that other person. His model promises a new way to define and measure the strength of trust. Suppose, for example, that our past encounters with a person suggest that they are cooperative, but we are told, by a third party, that they are unreliable. The longer we ignore the evidence of our own past interactions and follow the third party advice, the more we can be said to trust that third party source. Swistak hopes to extend his model to interactions between social groups, where the "third party,” whose assessment we trust (or distrust), might be our own culture or upbringing.


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