Stop Trusting Yourself

The New York Times:

TRUST is a double-edged sword. Though you can accomplish more in life if you put your faith in others, doing so also leaves you vulnerable. If your friend, business partner or political ally betrays you, he benefits — in terms of money, power or some other resource — at your expense. This risk is the drawback of trust, and it leads many people to prefer self-reliance, an arrangement that seems more secure because the only person you have to count on is yourself.

Such misplaced trust typically occurs because of two cognitive glitches. The first, identified by the psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, is that our predictions for how much we’ll want something in the future are often swayed by how we’re feeling right now. In one of their experiments, participants’ expectations of what they’d like to eat for breakfast tomorrow were principally influenced by how hungry they were today. Those who were very hungry believed they’d be so hungry the next morning that they’d even enjoy eating spaghetti for breakfast. Meanwhile, those who were not hungry believed they wouldn’t feel much of a need to eat spaghetti even for dinner, though in general they loved spaghetti. This tendency to give too much weight to extraneous momentary feelings poses a big problem when it comes to gauging the trustworthiness of future-you.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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