Why would you trust someone that you don't know? You shouldn't, after all. If you look at the problem rationally, no one should ever place their faith in someone that they don't know. Or as economist Paul Seabright has written, "Trusting strangers is, to put it simply, a most unnatural thing for us to do."
But it turns out that we place our faith in unfamiliar people all the time. What's more, experts believe that trust is a type of "social glue," the thing that keeps every group together as a group. Or as Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz once argued, "it is trust, more than money, that makes the world go round."
These ideas are at the center of my forthcoming book, The Leap: The Science of Trust and Why It Matters, and as part of my reporting, I visited a radio soap opera in Rwanda that aims to rebuild the country’s broken trust—and profiled the man who brought honesty to one of the most corrupt cities in Latin America. I even jumped out of an airplane with neuroeconomist and fellow Psychology Today blogger Paul Zak to see if the experience would boost my levels of oxytocin, the so-called "trust hormone."