Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lab #1: Trust-an Investigation of social Capital

Trust Lab:

1. Would you trust a stranger with your cell phone? If it was a kid? If it was a black man? If it was a white woman? If they were wearing ratted old clothing (appear to be poor)?
2.    How many people would you lend your house key to (other than family)
3.   How much do you trust your best friend on a scale of 1-10?
4.  How much do you trust everyday acquaintances on a scale of 1-10?
5.     Teachers:
a.     Would you leave your students at UNCSA alone for a couple minutes in a room taking a test?
b.     Does it depend on the class you are teaching? (grade level, advanced class)

We think that people in our community have low levels of trust. Many students probably will not lend their house key to anybody outside of their family. We also predict that people will stereotype strangers when deciding whether or not to lend their cell phone.  People will make this decision based off of whether or not they think the person will either steal the phone or if it is a man asking a woman, whether or not the woman thinks he is flirting with her. We also predict that for question 3, many people will recognize the fact that we are asking about their BEST friend therefore they will rate the level of trust as a 9 or 10.  However when the question is changed to “How much do you trust your everyday acquaintances (class mates, other people in your art form, hall mates etc) on a scale of 1-10?” we believe that the results will be lower. If the teachers say they can leave their students alone during a test, it is probably because the students are a certain age or the teacher is thinking of one of their “good classes”.  In other words, the class usually turns in assignments on time, listens to directions, is respectful, etc.  Overall, we think that since we are interviewing teachers here at UNCSA, they will more often than not, trust their students; a public high school may be a different situation.

Conclusions (after the survey):
Our prediction of low levels of trust was confirmed by the results of the survey.  80% of students interviewed would not trust a stranger with their cell phone!  These students said “no” before we even asked whether their decision depended on the age, gender or appearance of the stranger!  The other students who said “yes” seemed wary when we mentioned the fact that the stranger may appear to be poor.  They were clearly worried about the possibly of the stranger stealing the phone.  80% of the students surveyed stated a number equal to or less than 5 for people they would lend their house key to outside of their family.  This also shows the limited amount of trust placed in people within the community.  Results for the last two questions for students show that almost always there is a high level of trust placed in a person’s best friend and not much trust placed in people we encounter on an everyday basis.   It seems to be that today, people find an outlet for their trust in one, or maybe two people rather than whole communities in the way that people used to, when all the families living on a street were friendly with one another.  This shows the direct link from trust to social capital.  When you trust others to act appropriately and they do so, because they would expect the same from you, this is a friendship and many friendships where reciprocity of kind deeds is practiced is social capital.  On the other hand, the lack of trust in Americans today shows the reason for the lack of social capital, or networking between people in a community for the common good.  For example, in 1970, 75% of Americans trusted each other and today, only 30% of Americans trust each other.  This decline in trust and therefore, social capital is due to the notion for individual success and the quickened pace of life, where nobody seems to have time for anybody else.  


  1. All of your information about how much people trust each other is really interesting. I'm surprised at how little people said they trust their friends...
    ~Abby Cockrell

  2. I love you guys! And the video :) It really explains about social capital well, and how much people trust others..GOOD JOB!!!

  3. I totally agree with you guys that today things aren't always justified until approved to be "facebook official" before we know it instead of the gov. writing a bill saying a law is officially a law, they're just going to make it their status.

  4. It makes you think that you could put something completely ridiculous, and some people are bound to still believe it.

  5. Very funny video! Im glad i was in it! I don't know if the data was very accurate though. You guys did a good job of taking the data and recording it in an easy to understand format. Great Job!

    ~ISAIAH =D

  6. I loved the video! great job on the lab.

  7. Nice video. Good variety of questions. good editing.
    -West Webb

  8. I really like your work. You have created very original experiments that test the very center of our social capital. LOVE THAT VIDEO! You guys have also thought deeply and written well about your experiments and experiences. Great work! Well done! Very creative! Excellent!