Trust as personal competence

Irina Viktorovna Antonenko


Antonenko I.V. Trust as personal competence // Psychological science and practice: State of the Art. Collected papers / Ed. Kostrigin A.A. Chicago, 2017. P. 79-83.

Many researchers note the importance of trust in modern society. The phenomenon of trust is researched by philosophers, culturologists, sociologists, psychologists, economists, political scientists, lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc. (Antonenko, 2004, 2006, 2013, Zinchenko, 2001, Kuprejchenko, 2008, Seligman, 2000, Skripkina, 2000, Fukuyama, 1995, Sztompka, 1999, etc.). Experts point out that society functions as a multi-level system of mutual trust, that the level of trust in life is formed at the earliest ontogeny of personality, that trust determines all personal choices, trust is selectively, partially, etc. But there are also psycho-technologies for building trust, i.e. trust is actively exploited in political, commercial, criminal and other purposes. Some people display commensurate trust, others, rather, are overly trusting, others are excessively suspicious. In this connection, the question arises of personal competence in trust.

A number of authors believe that one of the key competencies of a person is trust, which manifests itself in three ways: 1) the ability to exercise adequate trust, 2) the ability to understand what level of trust another person has, and 3) the ability to organize interpersonal interaction on terms of formation and development of a high level of trust, since the factor of trust is most often the determining factor in the effectiveness of joint activities. This is essential both for private communication and in the conditions of one or another social activity. Therefore, the study of various aspects of trust in interpersonal interaction is socially demanded, important for understanding those principal points that allow us to form and develop trust in interpersonal interaction, i.e. develop the appropriate competence in the individual's confidence. Our empirical study (1998-2017) allowed us to consider trust in a number of significant relationships.

On the whole, the results obtained testify to the high importance of trust in interpersonal relations. At the same time, the significance of trust increases as the importance for the respondent of the relationship itself increases, the reduction, the social distance between the subject and the object. This trend is expressed clearly, and it can be considered an established regularity of the importance of trust: the importance of trust for the trustee is the higher, the less the social distance between him and the object of trust. At the same time, by social distance, we mean the relationship between formal and informal aspects of communication in social interaction: the more formal aspects are presented in relation to the informal, the greater is the social distance. In close relationships, social distance is minimal ‑ the significance of trust is maximal (100%). In business relations, people act as partners or colleagues, the priority for them depends on the quality of their interaction, they are brought together in many common positions ‑ the importance of trust is great (75%). Employees of the organization interact more formally ‑ the level of trust is lower (56%). Trust in leadership, people with higher social status is even lower (49%). And the trust in the society (the social distance here is great) decreases further (40%).

The study also revealed some of the internal characteristics of trust. With a high degree of confidence, it has been shown that trust is a counter equivalent ratio, conditioned by the object relationship. So the empirically proven fact is that trust is the counter equivalent positive attitude of the subject to the object that has the quality of positivity directed toward the subject; mistrust is the counter equivalent negative attitude of the subject to the object that has the quality of negativity directed toward the subject.

Thus, interpersonal trust is the important factor in interpersonal interaction, its subjective significance is directly dependent on social distance, and the degree of trust is determined by the equivalence of relations in interpersonal communication. On the formal side, competence in trust means the subject's ability to exercise the equivalent attitude and go a little ahead of developing interpersonal relationships, offering for his part the greater level of confidence and thereby suggesting the counter movement in the same direction.


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(c) 2017 Irina Viktorovna Antonenko