Sunday, October 21, 2012

My irrational attempt to rationalize trust

Being aware of quite a bit of economics and having developed a love for numbers, I thought I could derive an empirical proof of the most overused word of mine - Trust or Faith. Obviously, I am a rational person, at least so to say! This led me into thinking -  What is it that creates trust? And the first thing that comes to my mind is - encapsulated interest. I trust you because I think it is in your interest to take care of my interests. Can profitability be the sole motive of trust? In The Brothers Karamazov, Trifonov is honest to Lt. Colonel so long as the illegal business has to go on. But as soon as he realizes about the last transaction, he refuses to return the 4500 roubles to Lt. Makes sense, no? Isn't that the reason why people serving their notice period or managers right before their retirement stage, work less? This analysis is flawed somewhere. Because somebody might be trustworthy in the strong sense that they would reciprocate even when it's against their interests in the rational sense of cost-benefit analysis. And here I've an argument - Trust, may be, requires something more than rational reasons. Intuitively correct, it doesn't seem to fantasize me. Can this more be quantified? Okay, may be qualitatively specified?
And then while I was thinking hard, came my father, with apples cut in the plate and a fork next to it (I know he's not very fond of "peeling the apple job" and requests mom when he wants one for himself) which he offered me to eat with his ever so beautiful smile and a lovely Good night. It was then I realized that the rational analysis of trust was so very irrational in itself, until I consider an element of "Well-being". It might be my interest to earn more money, to get a better job but the happiness I obtain from that "more money" in the form of, say buying a better car, actually gets realized when I drive with my loved ones in that car to India Gate and spend the beautiful moments of my life. I might enjoy a lovely dinner, but I might enjoy it more with you. And so, came to my mind that when I say "trust encapsulated in mutual interests", it's just a proxy, or rather a poor proxy for "all that matters to me" and that certainly is much more meaningful than just interests. And while trust for a moment might seem to be rationally motivated by rational expectations, it's the respect that makes that trust sustainable and love that makes that trust meaningful - the three elements of a beautiful life.


Gagandeep Kaur said...

Nice thoughts :)

KK said...

If there was a rational explanation for trust, everyone could be trusted and everyone would trust everyone. But that clearly is not the case. Therefore (like geometry in school), by proof-by-contradiction, there is no rational explanation of trust.

(sorry for hijacking your post with this silly comment)

Priya Juneja said...

:D :D Nothing like that. It's always great to know what people have to say after they read what you've written. It's really kind of you to have bothered to comment on my post. Thank you :)
P.S.Very well said. A simple yet compelling argument!