Trust, Vitamin S, and Well-Being
Interview with Paul van Lange, Professor of Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on trust. He discusses the importance of social contact, which he and his co-author Simon Columbus frame in terms of “Vitamin S”, arguing that brief encounters with strangers can yield some happiness, an insight that is important for (young) adults during this era of COVID-19 lockdowns. He views trust in terms of accepting dependence on others and anticipating some critical level of pro-sociality from others. Norm violations by other people pose a challenge to trust, including norm violations enacted by strangers. Yet most people have developed a capacity to navigate to a relatively high level of trust, a default that we are often are not aware of. Like well-being, we start to ponder about trust in others when it is seriously challenged by others’ norm-violations. Various other intriguing questions are addressed. For example, what are the benefits of one-on-one interactions in pairs over interactions in larger groups? Why do we seek interactions with like-minded people? And why do we sometimes disclose more private information with a taxi-driver than with a friend?