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22. Trust

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Chapter Summary

For a long time, trust has been considered as a psychological notion, relating to individual attitudes or personality traits. The place of trust and other "moral sentiments" in economic transactions was emphasized in the 18th century by the philosophers and classical economists of the Scottish Enlightenment: Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson. The importance of trust in social life is due to the fundamental fact, noticed already by ancient philosophers, that a human being is essentially social. Most importantly trust depends on the subjective expectations of the trusting person, which may be quite innocuous, but also highly demanding. The act of trusting may be due to three types of circumstances: personality traits, informed estimates, and cultural constraints. Trust is a measure for alleviating uncertainty. Lacking trust in others or in social institutions people turn as a solace to beliefs in supernatural forces: gods, deities, "fortuna", predestination, inevitable progress.

Keywords: consumer trust; cynicism; distrust culture; economic systems; social organization

10.1163/9789004266179_052
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