While we like to think we're make rational decisions on who to trust, that is not always the case.
Heuristics—when our mind unconsciously applies rules of thumb–can take over leaving our more time consuming and rational brain in the dust. According to a new study, one of the factors which influence trust before you meet someone is the company they keep.
Deciding whether to trust someone, especially with your money, all too often is a matter not of slow, deliberate evaluation but of subconscious impulse. Name recognition plays a vital role; people can form impressions of others before they even meet, based on the new person’s associates and the company he or she keeps.
…In Madoff’s case, victims may have subconsciously come to trust him because the names of his other investors — whether friends and family members or celebrities — encouraged them to believe in him as well. This conclusion is a warning to consumers and executives, who often search for recognizable names on client lists or professional associations when evaluating a potential partner in investment, real estate, or business.
Guy Kawasaki has a chapter on building trust in his new book Enchantment. Among other things, he suggests you trust others; focus on goodwill; disclose your interests; give for intrinsic reasons; and gain knowledge and competence.