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  • Writer's pictureTITAN

The Psychology of Trust in Online Behaviours

Trust is a fundamental element of human interaction. It is essential for building healthy relationships, collaborating with others, and creating social bonds. In today's digital age, trust plays an even more significant role in our online behaviours. With the rise of social media and online communication, trust has become a complex issue that requires careful consideration.

The psychology of trust

Trust is a complex psychological concept that is influenced by several factors. These include familiarity, reliability, honesty, and competence. When we trust someone, we believe that they are reliable, honest, and competent in what they do. We also trust people who are familiar to us or share similar beliefs and values.

Trust is not only important for personal relationships but also for business interactions. In online commerce, for example, trust is crucial for building customer loyalty and ensuring repeat business. According to a study by the Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of consumers say that trust in a brand is a deciding factor in their purchasing decisions.

People often decide to trust something they read based on a combination of factors, including the source of the information, their own biases and preconceptions, and the nature of the information itself. Trust is often influenced by factors such as credibility, authority, and reputation.

When it comes to online information, people's critical thinking skills can be lowered by a range of factors. One of the most significant factors is the sheer amount of information available online. With so much information available, it can be challenging to sort through it all and identify trustworthy sources.

Another factor that can lower critical thinking skills is the tendency to seek out information that confirms one's pre-existing beliefs or biases. This can lead to confirmation bias, where people selectively choose information that supports their beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them.

Social media algorithms can also play a role in lowering critical thinking skills. These algorithms are designed to show users content that is likely to engage and interest them, which can lead to echo chambers where users are exposed only to information that confirms their existing beliefs.

In addition, online communication can sometimes lack important contextual information, such as body language or tone of voice, which can make it more difficult to interpret the meaning behind a message. This can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Finally, people's critical thinking skills can be lowered by their emotional state. When people are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, they may be more likely to accept information without questioning it. Or if they receive content from friends they are more likely to accept the information without questioning its veracity.

Improving online trust

Despite these challenges, there are ways to overcome trust issues in online behaviours. One way is to establish clear guidelines for online interactions. For example, businesses can clearly state their data privacy policies, making it clear what information they collect and how it is used. Social media platforms can also introduce measures to combat fake news and disinformation, such as fact-checking tools and warnings for misleading content.

Another way to overcome trust challenges is to build relationships with customers and online communities. This can be achieved through transparency and honesty in communication. By sharing information about their company and values, businesses can build trust with customers and create a sense of community. Social media influencers can also build trust with their followers by being authentic and transparent about their experiences.

In the TITAN project we believe its important to help people build and maintain strong critical thinking skills online, and are working to help individuals take a cautious and thoughtful approach to information. This can include fact-checking information from multiple sources, seeking out alternative viewpoints, and questioning one's own biases and assumptions. Our forthcoming AI-enabled personalised coach will be able to support people undertaking these tasks. We understand that its important to be mindful of the emotional and psychological factors that can impact decision-making and are exploring how we manage these factors where possible.

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