Reading List: The Truth About Trust

UPDATED: May 15, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 4, 2014

To trust or not to trust, that is the question Northwestern University psychology professor David DeSteno explores in his exhaustive—but ultimately inconclusive—examination of the human longing to believe in another person’s integrity and reliability. Trust is a factor in all human interactions. We trust that the gasoline we’re pumping into our car is actually gasoline. We trust that the pharmacist will fill the prescription correctly. We trust that when we call 911, someone will answer. So what is trust, exactly? Is it an emotion, a virtue or something else? There’s no clear answer to those questions, either.

What is clear (and supported by research) is that “trust influences more than most of us would have imagined,” affecting how we learn, love, take care of our health and conduct business. Lack of trust can adversely impact our professional and business relationships by cutting off a potentially satisfying, lucrative partnership. Trusting someone, whether it's in business or in love, means taking a risk.

But it’s a risk worth taking, DeSteno writes, because on average, the potential benefits from trusting others considerably outweigh the risks. While The Truth About Trust isn’t an easy read (definitely not for the scientifically nonchalant), it offers plenty of intriguing content for readers captivated by the science of human interaction.

by David DeSteno, Ph.D.

Hudson Street Press; $25.95

Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.