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burntbonez's avatar

Are young people less trusting?

Asked by burntbonez (5194 points ) December 6th, 2012

I mean people in their twenties and thirties compared to folks in their sixties and seventies. What is the consequence of being less trusting?

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11 Answers

Shippy's avatar

I’m not sure trust has a age category. The fact that you stated ages makes this question interesting to me. I can only share my own experiences and I am 50. I always had little reason to trust. Since my primary caregivers, my parents were not trustworthy either. Yet I always decided to trust. These days I trust less, learned from experience. Life is our teacher. I am choosing the life of a Hermit, so more and more these types of things will no longer concern me. And this is the best feeling I have ever felt. I gave it my best shot, it didnt pan out, so Im out of here.

Coloma's avatar

I can only speak for myself. I was too trusting for much of my life. I am not one given to playing games, being deceitful or manipulative and it took me a lot of years to learn to be more discriminating and to spot the red flags of unsavory types. I am a very open person but in my middle age now I have finally learned to not ignore the red flags.
I think a lot depends, as always, on nature/nurture and personality.

Certain personalities are naturally of a more suspicious nature, and pessimistic outlook.
Extroverts tend towards optimism and maybe a little more gullibility than introverts.
I have always been an open book and just don’t expect others to be deceptive in their interactions, but, this is a projection of my OWN, outlook.
If I walk away from my purse in a shopping cart for one minute I don’t expect it to be stolen because I would not steal anothers.

Personally though, I’d rather be a little too trusting, gullible, than a hardcore pessimistic type that is suspicious of everyone.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t detect a generational gap in trust. I think it depends on the person and their upbringing and experiences.

wundayatta's avatar

I just heard a report about this today. Interestingly, according to this study, older people are more vulnerable to fraud because they can not detect the subtle cues in facial expression that indicate a person is not trustworthy as well as young people do. This story from NPR provides more context and explanation.

This fits with my experience of the world, although it goes against the experience of the two young women above (both younger than I am, anyway). Oops. Now three. Not sure about @marinelife.

I find that it is easier to build trust with people my age than it is with younger people. Maybe it is because we have more similar experiences. Maybe it because the young people I run into have often been hurt a lot (as have the older folks, except the older ones have had time to process the pain). In any case, I think younger people tend to be more self-protective, as a generalization. Even those who can’t say “no” are really self protective in some complicated way.

I remember my grandmother was always ordering magazine subscriptions she didn’t need and didn’t read. Well, one grandmother did. The other didn’t. She seemed more suspicious of the outside world, for a reason I can’t explain now. Both are long gone.

Anyway, this study makes me worry that I will lose my ability to protect myself against scams. I might start spending less wisely. Giving money away to suspicious people. But I figure that my intellect will have to guard me against my emotions. I have my doubts that I will be able to do that, though.

Deshi_basara's avatar

Yes. We have been raised by popular media whcih has been telling us to only look out for ourselves for a long time now. As a generation we value intelligence, true connection, and science less, while putting more into labels, status, and sex.

At least in the urban areas I grew up in this is the case….

Highbrow's avatar

Trust is essential to strong relationships and a healthy society, but it has been declining for decades. Trust is most simply defined as the expectation that other people’s future actions will safeguard our interests. It is the magic ingredient that makes social life possible. We trust others when we take a chance, yielding them some control over our money, secrets, safety, or other things we value. Trust is an intrinsic part of human nature. First trust no one.
People trust other people like when they hire a babysitter, leave their house unarmed, and even drive their cars. And we must also trust big and large organizations, like schools and businesses, for modern society to function. Trust also helps the economy.
Trust is also essential to democracy, where people must be willing to place political power in the hands of their elected representatives and fellow citizens. Without trust, individuals would be unwilling to relinquish political power to those with opposing viewpoints, even for a short time. They would not believe that others will follow the rules and procedures of governance, or voluntarily hand over power after losing an election. If that trust declines, so does democracy.
As far as young people are concerned, they are engaged, but in a different way.
Young people appear generally engaged with current events and public affairs, expressing a high interest in staying informed about the world around them but also skepticism about the usefulness of following the news every day. However, their engagement differs in several important ways from the news habits of older Americans. I share the concern that young people are “news grazers”, if you get what I mean, young people get their news more randomly (or less regularly) than other age groups. My opinion is that young people report low interest in daily changes in ongoing topics. They appear to be more interested in the broad context of events and issues, and I am one. We, as young people, are willing to spend time getting informed–exploring and learning more about public issues, candidates and races– but we want our news updates to be quick, very selective and prioritized. And as yyou may know, the Internet is named as the top source of national and international news by most young people, slightly more than name television. Most young people get a large part of their news from social networks, family and friends rather than from news outlets directly. Television remains vastly more popular among young audiences, and many local newspapers have yet to establish substantial online readership. You can be assured that today’s young people recall fewer facts from news stories and have lower recollection of political and civic facts in surveys than do older Americans. The vast majority of young people do not trust the news media. Young people do not show up very frequently in the news, either in coverage or in journalism roles. That is not a criticism but a statement.
Young people tend to be more random news consumers and tend to have less background knowledge about the topics being discussed. Young people report dissatisfaction with the free-for-all, unregulated nature of many online attempts at creating a conversation about the news. That’s all I wanted to say.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that our society is, on the whole, less trusting today than we were in the past & a lot of our Politicians & our government, is responsible for this lack of trust.

hearkat's avatar

I would imagine that someone’s trusting nature is determined more by their life experiences than by age. I think the way a child is raised will have a part in whether they head out into young adulthood naïvely trusting everyone, or cynically distrusting everyone, or wherever they might fall in-between those two extremes. On an individual basis, I personally believe that trust has to be earned, but I also believe that people are mostly well-meaning, so I tend to give folks the benefit if the doubt, as long as my spidey-senses aren’t tingling—they’ve proven themselves countless times, so I trust my instincts more than any person.

Unlike, @Linda_Owl, I don’t blame the government so much, because politicians are in large part dominated by the concept of mass media marketing – which is what I suspect is a large part of our distrusting nature as a society… the art of making something cheap look spectacular, the art of convincing someone that they ”need” something. Watch commercial television for children for a day, and observe how to every commercial, the child’s eyes open wide and they immediately say they want it. By the second day, they are singing along with the commercials. But how often do they find that the toy that they couldn’t live without is broken within a few days? This continues throughout the ages, cosmetics, fitness fads, get-rich-quick schemes, etc.

Politicians, entertainers, athletes, corporate executives… ALL are groomed to be marketable, they are hyped to look wonderful to us regular folk; but inevitably they rarely (if ever) live up to the hype because they are regular folk, too. Back in 2008, I felt so sorry for Barack Obama because of the hype that was building up around him… it almost came back to bite him, because the GOP tried to use it against him in their claims that he didn’t get much done in his first 4 years (but no one could, the system is intentionally structured so that no one person can make sweeping changes). It all comes down to the capitalist mindset of selling everything and everyone to to masses so that some corporation and its shareholders can put more money in their offshore bank accounts.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I thought it would be the other way around. Don’t us youngins make stupid, dangerous decisions that get us into trouble, often because we trust people that we shouldn’t? And if my time working in a nursing home is any indication, the elderly don’t seem to trust easily at all.

flutherother's avatar

I think younger people are more trusting and trust is lost as we get older. The consequence of not trusting is isolation.

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