Take the 2-minute tour ×
Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. It's 100% free, no registration required.

*This question is based on my observations.

Q: What is the reason people trust their peers implicitly in extreme (or not) situations?

Example:

I am walking with a friend, and I am telling him something. Now we need to cross a road to the other side (not at the crosswalk; we both know that, so this fact is not communicated – we just proceed to the other side) while I am still telling him something. Unconsciously I understand that we are crossing a road at this point, and I am aware of the possible dangers even at that same point when I am thinking about it, but still I do not look to the right or left and continue following my friend, putting my well-being on his shoulders for that moment.

This may not be the worst case scenario and maybe not so extreme, but it is imaginable, and such a pattern is common in many different situations when one person relies on others' awareness of the dangers the current situation possesses without analysing and watching out for such dangers himself, thus dismissing the self-preservation instinct.

share|improve this question
    
A few random thoughts - A) Your friend was probably a reliable person to cross the road with, B) You probably expect that cars will yield anyway. C) We have to learn that crossing the road is dangerous; we do not get it at the instinctual level. This is important - you would not trust a friend 100% if you were hiking near a cliff or if he was holding a venomous snake. The risk does not feel real and yet it is. This can apply to all kinds of modern situations. Check out a book Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb. It changed my life. D) You really should look both ways when crossing the street. –  Leonid Jul 5 at 4:09
    
Random counterthoughts: A, B) Exactly, that is just a guess, right? How do I know that the driver wont be following me just to drive me over or maybe my friend always wished me dead.. How can a person trust anyone (friend or not) not knowing the human nature. Such things as "crossing the road", "do not get into strangers car", etc. are not instinctual, i agree, but they also are not some high-level thoughts. In my opinion these warnings are hardcoded in our mind since the childhood, so they get higher priority to things like "my plane may crash" or "a brick may fall down my head" –  Mocialov Boris Jul 5 at 8:12
    
@Leonid Maybe I should also add that I am supporter of the deterministic system –  Mocialov Boris Jul 5 at 8:15

4 Answers 4

Q: What is the reason for people to implicitly trust their peers in extreme (or not) situations?

Reliance is basically the dependence or trust in someone, to each lies a limited capability of being relied on due to our limited capacity as human beings. What I'm trying to imply is that your friend might have been able to consciously lead you across the road without you questioning his judgement, but in a time of crisis would you let that same friend tell you that it's best to invest all of your money into a shoe shining company?

We depend, or rely on specific people for specific things. Growing up we rely on our mother to provide us with the maternal support and experience required, just as we rely on our father (or father figure) to teaching us what it means to be a man. (Assuming the example human is a male..)

If you were a CEO of a huge company, you would have no trouble relying on your employees to do a specific job in which you ordered them to complete, but only knowing them on a work-basis what are the chances of you trusting them to the extent of looking after your children for a week while you're on holiday? (Also assuming the example human is a parent..).

Trust is a huge factor in the concept of persuasion, and to pursuade someone is to induce someone to do somthing through reasoning or argument. You are more likely to be pursuaded by someone whom you trust in, rather than someone you don't. That person you have relied on has shown to prove the actuality of being credible and knowledgable in the field in which you have decided to trust them in, thus allowing them to lead or guide you as an authority figure.

Also, childhood experience highly influence who we trust and to what extent, but that is an area in which I have little knowledge available to answer you question. I hope I made my message clear. Nonetheless, these are based off of opinion, although @denniswennen had a similar argument.

share|improve this answer

One human-being reliance on other(s) awareness is defined by the level of trust between the humans.

The idea is that the reliance has differents degrees and is dependent of the level of trust established with their peers. In your example your talking about a friend and so the level of trust - and so the degree to follow his instructions - is higher than when you would be walking with a random stranger. Then you'll probably ask yourself more questions at every move the peer takes.

A second factor is the context. It's not possible to describe an actor without describing it's environment. It depends if the environment is familiar or new. A new environment will trigger our (own) instinct more to check it for potential dangers.

share|improve this answer
    
so you are saying that the feeling of trust (whether pessimistic or optimistic) is being prioritised higher than the universal instinct of self-preservation? I agree on the effect of context though –  Mocialov Boris Jul 9 at 12:15
    
More or less. Trust is not being higher prioritised than self-preservation. Trust is a function of self-preservation, a medium through wich our universal instict can judge our outside world - people and situations. The feeling of trust enables our brain to recognize (previous) situations and it helps categorizing them. So we compare the current outside environment with what we already know (knowledge/instinct) and so if we are in the company of others we trust, our instinct will be less cautious. –  denniswennen Jul 11 at 7:37

There are many harding / flocking dynamics that reinforce this behavior: in birds, fish, cattle, and more.

These dynamics reinforce safety. Seeing animal precedent may influence human decisions.

Study of these group utility functions has been studied:

A major area of research that includes this topic is Ecological Psychology

share|improve this answer
    
I understand that flocking instinct is merely instinctual in cognitively inferior species, but (as I have noted in the original question), we do (whether subconsciously or not) tend to analyse the currently ongoing situation and we do not regard the other person (whether he is a friend or not [trust]) as a leader or superior being than ourselves (as animals may follow the leader despite the possibility of a fiasco). P.S. I will take a look at the links provided –  Mocialov Boris Jul 9 at 13:51
    
"cognitively inferior" suggests a bias on utility, which is not founded. Your statement "we do not regard the other person (whether he is a friend or not [trust]) as a leader or superior being than ourselves" is not defensible. It sounds like you have a prejudice which is impairing your ability to make observations. I know that I won't win the upvote contest by challenging someone's bases, but I feel we are here to educate, not coddle. –  New Alexandria Jul 9 at 17:44

In poker, this is called a "protected pot."

That is, if you are alone with an opponent who bets, you may "call" his bet with a weak hand, because there is a very good chance he is bluffing.

On the other hand, if it is "three way," the opponent bets, a second person calls, you can "fold" a weak hand with a lot more assurance that the bettor is not bluffing.

Because the bettor is betting against two people (one of whom has called), there is a greater chance that he has a strong (dangerous) hand, and you're not "missing out" by folding.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.