Appearances vs. Actions When Earning Trust


Why does the way that someone looks factor so large in how much we trust them? It’s just an arrangement of skin that has nothing to do with what’s underneath. We automatically think
that this guy is OK. (scribbling) But this guy looks a little suspicious. (scribbling) OK, maybe a lot suspicious
but it’s the some guy on the inside. There’s just a different container. But we can’t help it, it’s wired into us to judge trustworthiness by appearance, as every criminal defense attorney knows when he cleans up his client and buys him a suit for trial. (scribbling) So why was this wired
into us by evolution? To go so much by facial appearances when it comes to trust? Not how our appearances
affect our drive to reproduce but to trust. Well, for what it’s
worth, here’s my theory. Here’s a mistake that most people make. They think they trust other people because they look attractive. (scribbling) But that’s not really the case. We trust all kinds of
unattractive people, don’t we? Your family is probably not
composed of fashion models but you trust them. (scribbling) Well, maybe not total
trust, but you get my point. Attractiveness isn’t necessary for trust. Perhaps, you might think, we trust because a person look a lot like the image that you see reflected in the mirror. (scribbling) Sort of, but there’s a catch. It’s more nuanced than that. You have to remember
that in caveman times, no one knew exactly what they look like. No mirrors, of course. At best, they caught a
glimpse of themselves maybe once in their life, when the water in the watering hole wasn’t too muddy. (scribbling) From that glimpse, if
they ever even got one, the most they could know is they looked pretty much like everyone else. And that is the key, everyone else. A cavewoman didn’t trust another person because she looked similar to herself. She trusted because that other person looked like everyone else. In other words, she looked like a member of the correct tribe. (scribbling) So we get right back to that tribal thing again, don’t we? Trust based on appearance
is not about beauty. Fundamentally, it’s
based on whether someone has the correct features to fit in with the trusted group. With the tribe. (scribbling) We don’t live in close
knit tribes anymore, so we don’t focus as much
on specific features. We generalize much more and look for a range of indicators that another person is in our uber tribe, so to speak. The large group of people who make up our social and geographic tribe. And now, of course, we conclude clothing and possessions
to help assemble this trust indicator in our subconscious mind. (scribbling) I have to admit that it’s
kind of depressing to think how much our brains are so controlled by our prehistoric lifestyle. But in all fairness, it
hasn’t been for very much of our history that we quit
running around, wearing furs. Heck, some people still wear furs today. (scribbling) A throwback to cave society, possibly. Fortunately, we have a modern day antidote to this throwback prehistoric reflex of judging trust by tribal appearance. The antidote has the same roots as our unfortunate
appearance based impulses. You can say that it’s just as wired in. You see, for eons, there
have been go betweens, people who met with
multiple different tribes. (scribbling) These were the traitors. (scribbling) They couldn’t just trust people who looked like their home tribe or they’d never make any deals. They had to learn to
look deeper at actions, not appearances. You see, the instinct to trust or distrust based on appearances is
just for initial danger. A quick way for cave people to judge if someone was gonna
attack them right away. We also have a built in capacity to get to know different people in order to form alliances. Because alliances are also
a survival characteristic. So where does that leave us in our battle over our instincts when
it comes to developing trust in others? With a modern day antidote to tribalism. Travel. Whether you travel out
of your neighborhood or out of your country,
you get to experience a deepening of your trust instinct based on observing the actions of others, not there appearances. (scribbling) And actions don’t just
speak louder than words, actions speak louder than looks.

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