At the heart of social capital is trust.

Communities, towns, states, and countries that are rich in social capital have high levels of trust. Trust makes the world go round, and specifically it is necessary for economic, political, and social systems to function. At the heart of any healthy community is a high amount of trust. In 1970, 75% of Americans trusted each other. Today, only 30% of Americans say people can be trusted. Does it matter?

Some observers worry that with declining trust in America today it will be hard to work together to solve the vast societal problems we face.

Do you think that most people trust each other?

Take a camera, sketch pad, notebook, tape recorder, or video camera into your community to investigate trust. Here are some ideas, but you can approach this in many different ways. You could interview people, survey them about their level of trust, set up an experiment where you “drop” a dollar, scarf, notebook, or something valuable on the floor in a library and see if people return it to you (this might get expensive), or ask people at the mall if you can borrow their cell phone to call home. Do something within your own comfort level. If approaching strangers in a mall is scary, try something else. Whatever you do, try something creative to investigate trust in your community and report your results.


Anonymous said...

By L. F. Good

The idea of this lab interested me greatly. A few months before doing this lab, I had lost a wallet full of cash at an amusement park and thought the wallet would for sure be lost. One would expect an amusement park to be filled with pickpockets and young adults and kids who wouldn’t mind stealing an extra twenty dollars for cotton candy. But at the end of the day, I went to the lost and found, and my wallet was there, and not a cent of that $20 had been removed. Because of this, I know that no experiment can prove anything, because you can never tell when you’ll meet a kind someone. However, this lab reminded me of that incident, so I decided to try it - on purpose this time.

My home town used to be a small suburban community in which everyone knew each other and was friendly. Unfortunately, over the past five years, two farms (each with at least 10 acres of land) had been sold to development. They started building more stores, apartments, and houses, and a lot of “city folks” moved in; I noticed the attitude of the average customer at grocery stores suddenly became much less pleasant. However, I also noticed that the people who shopped at the local fresh vegetable stands tended to be the people who had lived in our town for more than five years, and were the nicer ones; the not-so-polite newcomers tended to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes, because they had big names, and so the new people thought they had more reliable groceries. Anyway, the way this relates to the project is this: I dropped a wallet full of fake cash (wrapped in one real dollar bill to make it seem more realistic) at the fresh vegetable stand, one at the Trader Joes, and one at the Whole Foods. At the fresh vegetable stand, a customer found the wallet, chased after me, and returned it. At the Trader Joes, a store clerk had taken it up to the manager, where I retrieved the wallet, and at the Whole Foods I never got it back. I found it interesting that the only store in which a customer had a kind heart was at the unique, in-town-only fresh vegetable stand.

This project was interesting, and it made me realize how much I miss the old farms and living in a smaller, kinder community. It cost me a dollar and an old wallet, but it was worth it.

Emma Tilson said...

Mr. Milner

This lab was very intriguing to me. I decided to go about my experiment of truth by having a friend film me drop items, such as money, glasses and an itunes gift card, and see the reaction of those around me. We started with the money, and on the first two tries no one even noticed the money! But third times a charm a woman noticed right away and quickly caught my attention to give the money back. We repeated this experiment multiple times and it seemed everyone except one was very trustworthy. The one woman who took the chance of stealing my money was speechless as my friend began screaming "hey HEY thats her money" while filming the reaction. We were still feeling pretty good about the amount of trustworthiness in the Walmart community, that is until the manager came over. He made it very clear to us that no filming was allowed in walmart or in the parking lot as I suggested. We were forced to delete all evidence of our trust experiment :( and were not allowed to film him telling us we could not film (I wanted proof we had completed our project). He told us the reason we could not film was because it was suspicious and we could be filming to look at the security, even after we explained our school project! Later in Walmart we were asked to leave, apparently sitting in Walmart instead of outside is also suspicious! In conclusion although all but one person was trustworthy, the Walmart staff was not trusting in its customers, not even the innocent teenage girls!!

Maria said... - see attachment labled trust -
Maria and Fola

Anonymous said...

This lab was very interesting. Me and a friend went around her neighborhood and interviewed her neighbor and asked them how they felt about trust. And they broke it down to us what trust was all about. I thought it was just a feeling but its so much more than that.