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Always Depended on the Trustworthiness of Strangers
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From the latest wave of the World Values Survey completed between 2017 and 2020 comes percentages of residents by country who say “people you meet for the first time” can generally be somewhat or completely trusted (N = 127,596):

Country %Trust
1) Denmark 75.3
2) Sweden 73.9
3) Netherlands 71.6
4) Norway 67.7
5) Finland 60.1
5) Iceland 60.1
7) United Kingdom 55.0
8) Switzerland 51.3
9) New Zealand 50.1
10) Ethiopia 47.8
11) Australia 47.5
12) Spain 43.8
13) Myanmar 41.3
14) Hungary 38.9
15) Austria 38.8
15) United States 38.8
17) Czech Republic 35.5
18) Montenegro 35.2
18) Portugal 35.2
20) Estonia 34.3
20) France 34.3
20) Pakistan 34.3
23) Iran 33.9
24) Slovakia 32.3
25) Argentina 31.6
26) Croatia 31.3
27) Vietnam 30.9
28) Germany 30.6
28) Tunisia 30.6
30) Macau 30.4
31) Jordan 29.7
32) Andorra 292
33) Bulgaria 27.5
34) Ukraine 27.1
35) Thailand 27.0
35) North Macedonia 27.0
37) Philippines 26.9
38) Nigeria 26.6
39) Italy 26.4
40) Zimbabwe 25.9
41) Poland 25.7
42) Chile 25.6
43) Puerto Rico 25.4
44) Taiwan 25.3
45) Turkey 25.1
46) Iraq 24.0
47) Bosnia Herzegovina 23.4
47) Serbia 23.4
49) Brazil 22.7
50) Lebanon 22.6
51) Hong Kong 22.2
52) Russia 22.1
53) Bangladesh 20.6
54) Belarus 20.1
55) Kazakhstan 19.9
56) Egypt 19.3
57) Guatemala 18.4
58) Lithuania 17.6
59) South Korea 17.5
60) Armenia 16.5
61) Kyrgyzstan 15.8
62) Malaysia 14.9
63) Colombia 14.4
64) Slovenia 13.7
64) Azerbaijan 13.7
66) China 13.4
67) Georgia 13.2
68) Mexico 13.1
69) Romania 11.8
70) Nicaragua 10.8
71) Bolivia 10.5
72) Japan 10.4
73) Tajikistan 10.3
74) Greece 9.7
75) Indonesia 9.3
75) Cyprus 9.3
77) Peru 9.0
78) Albania 8.7
79) Ecuador 7.8

Northwestern Europe, particularly Northern Europe, is the most trusting place on the planet. There are upsides to this, as Sweden’s response to Covid illustrates. There are also downsides, as Sweden’s response to the refugee crisis illustrated.

East Asia, by contrast, is guarded. The Orient is well represented in the survey, and trust in strangers is consistently low across those representatives. They may reliably return a lost wallet, but that doesn’t mean they assume others will do the same:

• Category: Culture/Society, Foreign Policy, Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Trust, WVS 
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  1. anon[419] • Disclaimer says:

    This summary is nearly 7 years old yet remains an excellent in-depth summary of where the WEIRD come from.

    Essay on WEIRD from 2018.

    Sorry if I got fingerprints on someone’s blank slate.

    • Replies: @BenB
    , @SIMP simp
  2. There seems to be very little rhyme or reason to any of this, neither geographically nor ethnologically nor culturally. I suspect the cluster of northern European countries at the top of the list results from the way in which they are indoctrinated to answer such questions and may not reflect how they really feel.

    • Agree: utu, iffen, dfordoom
    • Replies: @V. K. Ovelund
    , @Bert
  3. Talha says:

    Cyprus seemed really bizarre in its position, but seems more reliable when looking at Greece.

    Northwestern Europe does seem very similar in attitudes so some theme looks to emerge between them.


    • Replies: @Agathoklis
  4. utu says:

    There are upsides to this, as Sweden’s response to Covid illustrates. There are also downsides, as Sweden’s response to the refugee crisis illustrated.

    Denmark is higher than Sweden on the silly list. But being number one in the so called trust must have consequences in the world of pseudoscientific search for bias confirmation:

    There are upsides to this, as Denmark’s response to Covid illustrates. And there is no downside to this, as Denmark’s response to the refugee crisis illustrated.

    • Thanks: Audacious Epigone
  5. @Talha

    Greek and Cypriots are Hellenic peoples so their similar low trust levels are no surprise. The Greeks are somewhat unique in being highly ethnocentric but display very low trust levels. The low trust levels are really about competition and aspiration. The more you compete and aspire to better yourself and your family the less you trust your neighbour.

    • Thanks: Talha
  6. Why the huge gap between Germany and Scandinavia?

    Any ideas?

    • Replies: @Altai
    , @nokangaroos
  7. @Intelligent Dasein

    It turns out that corroborating data exists. See the linked report’s Figure 1.4, p. 15.

    An older but more detailed, saner, less politicized edition of the same report gives data on nepotism, which might circumvent your indoctrinary objection if the newer data does not. See the older edition’s Data Table 1.29, p. 432.

    • Replies: @V. K. Ovelund
  8. @V. K. Ovelund

    AE, despite that I inadvertently made the noun data a singular, which spoils the effect, the older linked report is probably worth four minutes of your time. The older report merits a glance, at any rate. It delivers the sort of data about which you seem to like to blog, at any rate.

    You can review the newer report, too, if you wish, of course. I have not recommended it, for I think the newer report tendentious and generally comparatively retarded (its author is not the same), but your view might differ. The older report though is worth the four minutes at any rate.

    • Thanks: Audacious Epigone
  9. Neuday says:

    Israel appears to be missing. Perhaps they scored <1%?

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
    , @nebulafox
  10. @Neuday

    Also conspicuously absent is CHAZ.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  11. Altai says:

    Germany is a big country encompassing a lot of very different peoples with different religious, cultural and social traditions who all happen to speak German today. And I’m not talking about recent immigrants. And keep in mind the very different recent history of the former GDR.

    Additionally, like Japan, Germany is a country highly governed by shame and norms more than internalised guilt and moral reasoning. The old cliche of the German holiday maker leaving towels on chairs or by pools to ‘claim’ a spot despite there being no fairness or logic to it comes to mind.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  12. BenB says:

    An interesting question no one seems to be asking, are NE Asians evolving to be WEIRD now?

    Consanguinity and cousin marriage are essentially no longer practiced by NE Asians. The Japanese went from over 30% (maybe as high as 50%) rates of first cousin marriage before the 20th century to 1.6% today. Likewise, cousin marriage is no longer practiced in Korea and China.

    • Thanks: V. K. Ovelund
    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  13. nebulafox says:

    I think you need to distinguish between trust in institutions and trust in other private individuals. They are not necessarily the same thing.

    Here’s an example: in South Korea, I can vouch for the fact that it’s not uncommon for severely drunk women to be escorted home by the police with no incident whatsoever, or for people to leave their laptops in cafes without worrying about them being stolen. That would not happen in a country where the police are notoriously corrupt and aren’t that much different from the criminals themselves: like say, Vietnam. Yet Vietnam scores significantly higher on the trust metric than South Korea does. My guess is that is because social atomization has become a massive problem in Korea. Even moreso in Japan further down on the list, where the people are generally more reserved and there’s a whole culture for shut-ins. By contrast, Vietnam’s still a significantly communal culture, even in the big cities. Whether this will change as the country continues to economically develop remains to be seen.

    (I don’t have any experience with Scandinavia, so I cannot intelligently comment on it. But I’ve never heard of them having a hikikomori equivalent. Danes in particular seem quite reserved with outsiders, yet intimate with friends.)

  14. Twinkie says:

    Again, this survey only shows stated preferences, not revealed preferences.

    The latter are demonstrated amply by actual behaviors. In Seoul and Tokyo, people will leave their wallets, laptops, phones, and such on tables and walk off at coffee shops and restaurants. Clearly, the people of those cities trust the strangers around them not to take their property.

    But even in the supposedly high-trust Stockholm, people generally do not do this.

    Also, people in China having higher trust of strangers than Japan? That is quite at odds with my experience. And the UK and the US higher than Japan? That is completely laughable.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  15. nebulafox says:

    Israel’s an interesting case because they had a significant influx from the collapsing USSR, which is about as low-trust an environment as you could possibly imagine, yet also have a large and influential Orthodox population which probably-like any ultra-religious community-has a high degree of social trust. I’d love to hear from somebody who has experience with the place on how that plays out.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  16. songbird says:

    It’s curious that Japan is so low.

    I almost think it might be related to extroversion/introversion, though that makes it hard to explain why the Finns are relatively high. Perhaps, it has to do with cultural contamination, and poz makes people say that they trust everyone. I wonder what they would have said under Mannerheim.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  17. @Altai

    The more interesting contrast is Switzerland vs. Germany.

  18. Svevlad says:

    “high trust societies are richer and more prosperous” yeah that Ethiopia and Myanmar are kinda 2 gargantuan wreckers of that meme

    • Replies: @Talha
  19. Talha says:

    There seem to be a couple of patterns and then the rest seems to be all over the place. Pakistan aligning with France? Nigeria and the Philippines and Italy being aligned…? I think a lot would have to do with how the question is phrased in the native language.


    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Audacious Epigone
  20. iffen says:

    I think AE is giving you a shout out with the “always depended.”

    • Replies: @Talha
  21. Talha says:

    Blanche gets credit…or, I guess, Tennessee Williams. It’s a memorable line. Perhaps not as much as:


    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  22. @nebulafox

    “a large and influential Orthodox population which probably-like any ultra-religious community-has a high degree of social trust”

    Inside that Orthodox population, very high trust. Outside it, very little.

    • Replies: @anon
  23. anon[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Very high trust to other tribe members, very low trust to none tribe members — a known feature of tribalism. “Is it good for the tribe?” being one way to express this.

  24. @songbird

    “It’s curious that Japan is so low.”

    In Japan, everyone knows who their neighbours are, so meeting people for the first time isn’t actually that common. In contrast, even in an English village, I’ve only met some of my neighbours
    (recent incomers, but there are a lot of these) since the pandemic, when the village came together in lockdown to mark things like VE day.

    Despite the existence of massive cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, people in their neighborhoods are well known to those around them. There is little urban anonymity. When I first lived in Japan on a work visa and had my own apartment in a residential neighborhood of Tokyo, in 1971, I was paid a friendly visit by a local policeman. It was a completely routine matter: police are required to keep track of every resident of their beats, and they want to know the basics, such as your work, your age, and your living circumstances. In my circumstances, immigration papers were also of concern, but for Japanese, it would be the koseki, a mandatory official family record kept on a household basis, reporting births, acknowledgements of paternity, adoptions, disruptions of adoptions, deaths, marriages and divorces. Every Japanese is not just an individual, he or she is officially is a member of a household (ie), and the state keeps track.

    Following the gathering of my information, the policeman no doubt returned to his local substation (koban), which are found every few blocks in urban areas, to record the information for his colleagues. To an American it seemed quite extraordinary, a violation of privacy. But in Japan a lack of anonymity is the norm.

    Soon after the beat cop’s visit to me, local merchants began nodding to me as I walked to and from the train station, as if they knew me and acknowledged me. I was fairly certain the word had gone out via omawari san (literally, the honorable gentleman who walks around, a polite colloquial euphemism for the police) that I was a Japanese-speaking American in Japan on legitimate, respectable grounds.

    • Thanks: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  25. @BenB

    This is an interesting point. Japan’s whole society is constructed on a clan system, including their weird antique system of family registries. However, almost no Japanese I talk to demonstrate any clannish attitudes.

  26. @YetAnotherAnon

    When I first lived in Japan on a work visa and had my own apartment in a residential neighborhood of Tokyo, in 1971

    Japan is not the same country it was 50 years ago.

  27. @Twinkie

    Japan is contradictory in this way. It’s true what you say, but at the same time, my wife is extremely careful to remove shipping labels from boxes before we throw them out because she thinks it’s dangerous for people to see where we ordered from. In talking with other people about my wife, I have discovered that this paranoia is widespread. People also carefully shred documents before throwing them away and many people are averse to giving away or re-selling old computers.

    It’s also true that many people have trouble making friends after primary or secondary school. You find adults who still consider their elementary school classmates their true friends even though they rarely if ever talk to them any more.

    One factor in the above list of countries that may affect those answers without being based on actual considerations about strangers per se is the risk aversion-vs-risk seeking spectrum. Japan is an extremely risk averse society, so new things, new people, and unknowns present psychological challenges, as do behaviors that are sanctioned as risky even when not. Everyone knows that everyone walks away from their laptop in Starbucks, so that is not considered risky behavior, but women taking public transportation is considered risky because of official women’s only train cars and requirements for cellphones cameras to make noise (no upskirts, please!).

  28. @JohnnyWalker123

    I guess during the Twelve Years Germany would have topped 80%.
    Then again things like burgling during blackout meant automatic death penalty.

  29. Bert says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    The Nordic high trust is a historical relict from when they were Vikings or Volkswanderungs and anybody new whom they met was honest….. honestly trying to flee.

    • Agree: V. K. Ovelund
    • Disagree: Corvinus
    • LOL: iffen
  30. The world has changed in the last 17 years,
    I don’t know if this would still happen today…

  31. SIMP simp says:

    Joe henrich published another book this year expounding on these ideas.

    • Replies: @anon
  32. @Talha

    Yeah, that’s always a nagging issue with the WVS, which is why I don’t use it often.

  33. @Talha

    Memorable, yes. Admirable? Not at all. It’s a celebration of parasitism.

    • Replies: @Talha
  34. Talha says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    Women get a wider berth in the category of being dependent as far as I see it. It’s far more feminine than “strong and independent”.


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