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Trustworthiness and motivations

Gold, Natalie (2014) Trustworthiness and motivations. In: Morris, Nicholas and Vines, David, (eds.) Capital Failure: Rebuilding Trust in Financial Services. Oxford University Press USA, Oxford, UK, 129 - 153. ISBN 9780198712220

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Identification Number: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712220.003.0006


Neoclassical economics assumes that agents are self-regarding, pursuing their private interests in ‘unsympathetic isolation’. The neoclassical analysis of trust explores how trustworthy behaviour can be sustained, based on self-regarding motivations. However, most philosophers agree that trustworthy behaviour must not spring from wholly self-regarding motivations. The chapter distinguishes weak trustworthiness, as studied in neoclassical economics, from strong trustworthiness, which must include a non-self-regarding motivation. Strong trust is ubiquitous, efficient, and often a precondition for effective sanctions. Strong trust is important in finance because of product complexity: customers rely on truthful assessments by designers. To understand the causes of untrustworthy behaviour the chapter examines peoples’ motivations and the ‘framing’ of situations. Regulations need to be enforced by sanctions, to incentivise wholly self-regarding agents to be at least weakly trustworthy. But more than this, a change of culture can improve trustworthiness, ensuring that agents see strong trustworthiness as expected and appropriate.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The various contributors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2021 08:42
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 23:05

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