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Economics focus: A matter of trust | The Economist


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"Behaviours such as reciprocity and co-operation is not bred in the bone. Rather, it responds to incentives and experience.

Personal setbacks erode trust, too:

Respondents who had recently suffered a personal setback — for instance, serious illness or financial problems — also reported lower levels of trust. This suggests that when people revise their expectations of fellow humans, it may sometimes be for apparently irrelevant reasons.

Slowly built reputation over time is still one of the best ways to build trust:

Together, the studies argue that trust is shaped by experience not native personal traits. It also seems that trust is a fragile thing, prone to break down altogether. The lesson? A handshake is no substitute for ready money, or a hard-earned reputation.

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