Latin American Region, European Union Region · 12 June, 2019

Trust, a functional prerequisite in complex societies

Article by Cecilia Güemes, Researcher and Teacher (Madrid Autonomous Universities-UAM)

When there is certainty, full knowledge and assurance, trust is not relevant. On the contrary, when uncertainty is the rule and information is scarce, trust is a primary need to be able to establish social relationships and take collective action.

Trust emphasises the positive expectations that subjects have about the intentions and behaviours of others. Whoever trusts has the expectation of not being disappointed by the recipient of their trust, whether this be an individual and known other (family, friends, colleagues), or an anonymous and generalised other (society, institutions).  It is a wager that generalises behavioural expectations, replacing insufficient information with internally generalised security, which means suspending irreducible social vulnerability and taking a “leap of faith”.

In view of the importance of collective action, the presence of high levels of trust is key to explaining economic development, democratic quality, state effectiveness, and social joy. Proof of this are the virtuous and vicious circles found in Norway or Finland as opposed to Brazil and Central America.

In Latin America, only 14 out of every 100 people say they trust others. In Europe, it is 32 out of every 100. What is interesting in both regions is the variation between countries. In Latin America, Ecuadorians and Chileans have values close to European countries, while Brazil falls short of 7%; and in Europe the Norwegians and Finns are 50 percentage points ahead of the Portuguese and Poles.

Pais: Latin American Region, European Union Region
ODS: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Área de Políticas: Democratic governance policies
Tipo: Article

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