Comment Of The Day (1): “Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll”

My post on the Gallup poll on public trust in various occupations and professions strayed into Charles Green’s wheelhouse, and the resulting home run comment enlightened us regarding why nurses keep “winning” the poll as the most trusted year after year after year.

Here is Charlie’s Comment of the Day on the post, Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll:

Speaking just to the nursing angle: my work on trust has involved a diagnostic tool, the TQ (Trust Quotient), a self-assessment of the four components of trustworthiness in the Trust Equation:
(Credibilty + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation.

70,000 people have taken it, and three results stand out above all others.

First, women are more trustworthy than men – a finding confirmed by informal polls in 397 out of 400 groups I’ve presented in front of.

Second, the most powerful factor of the four (defined as the highest coefficient in a regression equation) is Intimacy.

Third, the bulk of women’s outscoring men is their higher score on the Intimacy factor (again, intuitively true to the vast majority of groups I ask).

It’s in this context that I note the Gallup work (and other pollsters) finding of nursing at the top of the heap every year but 2002 (which was, not coincidentally, the year after 9/11 – and a year in which firemen, if only for that one year, took over the top spot.

Nursing is an 89% female profession. I ask my audiences, “Which of the four trustworthiness factors do you think nurses most embody: credibility, reliability, intimacy, or low self-orientation?” Most pick intimacy (with low self-orientation a frequent second).

Add ’em up: female, Intimacy, nursing – it’s a trifecta.

Not only that, if the doctor says to you, “You’ll be up and walking in two weeks,” and the nurse whispers to you, “Honey, it’ll be a month” – who you gonna trust? The nurse, every time.

Net net, the most powerful driver of trust is the sense that you can without risk share sensitive facts and feelings with the other – that’s how we define intimacy. This is of course anathema to a great deal of data-centric professions, including accountants, actuaries, lawyers (who along with politicians always anchor the bottom of these lists) – and doctors. The reason nurses out-score doctors on all these surveys is that doctors over-rate their expertise and under-rate bedside manner.

Note this is not woo-woo left coast happy talk. The stock in trade of a good con artist is also Intimacy; they’re adept at forging that sense that you can share everything with them, and that they’re uniquely sharing everything with you. It’s just a fact about how humans are wired that Intimacy is such a driver – a fact systematically under-rated in this day and age of data, processes, systems, AI and robotics. But humans have evolved over eons, and we haven’t rewired our operating systems just because of a few decades of advance in cognitive fields.

So, that’s why the nurses finding makes so much sense.

5 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Professions, Research and Scholarship, Workplace

5 responses to “Comment Of The Day (1): “Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll”

  1. charlesgreen

    Thanks Jack, appreciate the honor.

  2. Glenn Logan

    Well done, Charles. Interesting and informative.

  3. wfearnow

    I love the nurse/con man duality. Tremendous. Best explanation of the use of “confidence” in con man I’ve encountered.

  4. “Net net, the most powerful driver of trust is the sense that you can without risk share sensitive facts and feelings with the other – that’s how we define intimacy.”

    Isn’t this what we used to call (and still do as far as I know): Candor?

    I think intimacy is deeper than that.

    Other than that terminology, great comment.

    Congrats.

  5. Isaac

    Well said. But I was told that men and women were exactly the same on the inside, to the extent that you can just swap genitals around like on a Mr. Potato Head and it won’t make any difference either way.

    If that be not the case…am I to believe that the wage gap might be due to different desires and temperaments between the sexes, and perhaps not because we all live under the oppressive cloud of a woman-hating patriarchy?

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