On the front page of last Sunday’s World, there was a provocative and dismaying story about how much distrust exists in society today. A national study reveals that only one third of us believe that most people can be trusted, down from 50 percent when the survey was first taken in the 1970s.
Social scientists say this lack of trust has serious effects. People who don’t trust each other won’t work together. They won’t find common ground. They shun compromise. They waste precious energy on defensive strategies, pick over minor details and hire lawyers as guardians. Trust promotes social and economic growth. Distrust, the opposite.