Psychology of Scams: Stranger Trust – How Did You Get Captured In A Scam
Talking To And Trusting Strangers, And The Captive Flow
We All Know We Are Not Supposed To Automatically Trust Strangers – Then Why Do We?
Let’s explore why we are so willing to trust someone we have never met!
In 2017 Study It Suggests We Are More Likely To Trust A Stranger Instead Of Someone We know
Recent research suggests what we thought we knew about social trust judgments may be all wrong.
Social Trust: is the expectation that people will behave with goodwill and avoid harming others, is a concept that has long mystified both researchers and the general public alike.
Trust and cooperation is critical to social success, life operates by an undercurrent law of Survival of the Friendliest: evolution is about more than just rivalry, we need relationships.
So, How Trusting Are You?
Would you let a stranger borrow your phone in an emergency? Would you lend your friend money if they couldn’t make the rent? Have you ever been kinder to a stranger than you are to your sibling?
Obviously, if you are reading this it means you trusted a stranger. You trusted them with your emotions and probably your money!
Many of us have undoubtedly sat in contemplation of what molds our trust in friends and strangers. What makes us inclined to give some people the benefit of the doubt, but occasionally cast a skeptical eye on others. And is there a relationship between how closely we trust people and how well we know them?
We have been looking at this problem for years and recent studies help cast a light on why we trust strangers!
We Trust Strangers, Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense To Do So
Relationships, businesses, governments—almost every interaction people have is built on trust. eCommerce can’t survive without it. But why do we put so much faith in others? What makes us so sure that the person who puts a mint condition baby carriage up for sale a) Actually owns the carriage, b) Isn’t lying when he says it’s in mint condition, and c) will send the said carriage when you pay him?
David Dunning, a psychology professor at Cornell University and his colleagues, say that all rational behavior theories predict that people shouldn’t trust complete strangers. We have no way of knowing that the other person will do what he promises in any transaction, because we know nothing about that person. Any rational model of behavior predicts that the other person will renege on any promise as soon as it’s in his best interest to do so. Survival of the fittest and all.
But in a series of trust experiments with 645 undergraduates, the scientists found that 62% would give away a small sum of money even if their two options were that the other person would keep it all, or, if the person decided to return it, that both would get back a larger amount. If the students were actually calculating the odds of getting their money back or increasing it, only 20% would have taken the gamble.
What does that tell us about ourselves? That we’re more of a society than we thought. Most of the participants talked about politeness and rudeness as motivating them to trust their fellow study subject, even if it meant potentially getting exploited by them. “Their behavior was a comment on the other person’s character,” says Dunning. By not giving up the money, in other words, the volunteers were concerned that they would be implying that the other subject was untrustworthy and a crook, because by keeping the money, they had decided it wasn’t going to be returned. “People feel a social duty to respect the other person,” says Dunning.
How does he know that the first person wasn’t simply acting out of greed over potentially quadrupling their payoff? Through other variations of this game, in which participants chose between trusting a stranger to return the money or a coin flip that would decide, people did not take such gambles on getting their money back if they were told the coin flip would determine whether they got their money back. “That tells us that people are responding to issues in the other person’s character,” says Dunning. “The signal they are sending is that ‘I respect your character.’ As soon as you take out that issue, people gamble at the rate that would be consistent with greed.”
You can interpret that as either being a sign of solidarity, an inexplicable sense of belonging to and being a member of a community in which everyone treats everyone with respect, or you can view it in a slightly more cynical way – that people trust others because they think they have to, and are guilted into acting in the more magnanimous way. Different people may justify their behavior in different ways, says Dunning. That’s because although most people will act in the more generous, way that shows respect and trust for their fellow man, that doesn’t mean that they believe internally that everyone is trustworthy. “The situation causes internal conflict,” he says. “We get 30% to 40% of people saying something like the odds are that I am going to get screwed, or not get the money back, but they still give up the $5 to the other person.”
That strength of community norms, or an obligation to act in ways that may be counter to their internal beliefs, is something that Dunning hopes to explore further. Does it come from an even deeper faith in the goodness of the world and an optimism that people are good and nice to each other? Perhaps. For now, it’s enough to know that even strangers tend to trust one another – even if it’s driven by a sense of obligation.
These are the very same issues that drive people to trust Romance Scammers, Lotto Scammers, and Advance Fee Fraud Scammers!
HOWEVER, KNOWING THESE THINGS IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING RESISTANT TO THEM
In A New Study Published In 2019
Why Do We Trust, or Not Trust, Strangers?
The Answer is Pavlovian, New Psychology Research Finds
Our trust in strangers is dependent on their resemblance to others we’ve previously known, finds a new study by a team of psychology researchers.
Our trust in strangers is dependent on their resemblance to others we’ve previously known, finds a new study by a team of psychology researchers. Its results show that strangers resembling past individuals known to be trustworthy are trusted more; by contrast, those similar to others known to be untrustworthy are trusted less.
The details of the research, conducted at New York University, are reported in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our study reveals that strangers are distrusted even when they only minimally resemble someone previously associated with immoral behavior,” explains the work’s lead author, Oriel FeldmanHall, who led research as a post-doctoral fellow at NYU and who is now an assistant professor in Brown University’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences. “Like Pavlov’s dog, who, despite being conditioned on a single bell, continues to salivate to bells that have similar tones, we use information about a person’s moral character, in this case whether they can be trusted, as a basic Pavlovian learning mechanism in order to make judgments about strangers.”
“We make decisions about a stranger’s reputation without any direct or explicit information about them based on their similarity to others we’ve encountered, even when we’re unaware of this resemblance,” adds Elizabeth Phelps, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the paper’s senior author. “This shows our brains deploy a learning mechanism in which moral information encoded from past experiences guides future choices.”
Scientists have a better grasp on how social decision-making unfolds in repeated one-on-one interactions. Less clear, however, is how our brain functions in making these same decisions when interacting with strangers.
To explore this, the researchers conducted a series of experiments centering on a trust game in which participants make a series of decisions about their partners’ trustworthiness—in this case, deciding whether to entrust their money with three different players who were represented by facial images.
Here, the subjects knew that any money they invested would be multiplied four times and that the other player could then either share the money back with the subject (reciprocate) or keep the money for himself (defect). Each player was highly trustworthy (reciprocated 93 percent of the time), somewhat trustworthy (reciprocated 60 percent of the time), or not at all trustworthy (reciprocated 7 percent of the time).
In a second task, the same subjects were asked to select new partners for another game. However, unbeknownst to the subjects, the face of each potential new partner was morphed, to varying degrees, with one of the three original players so the new partners bore some physical resemblance to the previous ones.
Even though the subjects were not consciously aware that the strangers (i.e., the new partners) resembled those they previously encountered, subjects consistently preferred to play with strangers who resembled the original player they previously learned was trustworthy and avoided playing with strangers resembling the earlier untrustworthy player. Moreover, these decisions to trust or distrust strangers uncovered an interesting and sophisticated gradient: trust steadily increased the more the stranger looked like the trustworthy partner from the previous experiment and steadily decreased the more the stranger looked like the untrustworthy one.
In a subsequent experiment, the scientists examined the brain activity of the subjects as they made these decisions. Here they found that when deciding whether or not the strangers could be trusted, the subjects’ brains tapped the same neurological regions that were involved when learning about the partner in the first task, including the amygdala—a region that plays a large role in emotional learning. The greater the similarity in neural activity between initially learning about an untrustworthy player and deciding to trust a stranger, the more subjects refused to trust the stranger.
This finding points to the highly adaptive nature of the brain as it shows we make moral assessments of strangers drawn from previous learning experiences.
The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Aging (AG 039283), part of the National Institutes of Health.
This truly explains why fake soldiers are so effective since it is based upon predefined trustworthy models!
Click Here for the full Study Report: Stimulus generalization as a mechanism for learning to trust – Full Study Document – PDF
To overcome scams we have to understand the full cycle of how our brains work against us
We Call This Process The Scammer/Victim Captive Flow
It’S All About Your Brain Working Against You!
Here is how the Scammer/Victim Captive Flow works:
- Stranger Trust Relationship scams, especially Romance Scams are based upon several factors but it all begins with the irrational trust we place in strangers. Our parents told us not to trust strangers as children, but we know that it requires reinforcement constantly. As adults, it wears off. Scammers know this and exploit it to get us talking to them.
- Once the trust has been Captured they exploit our brains with the Amygdala Hijack by telling victims they love them! By telling a victim that they love them it both further reinforces the trust but also hijacks the victim’s emotions and establishes a dependency.
- After a while, the victim starts to question but the scammer is reading with Gaslighting and further manipulation. They use this to control the victim’s sense of reality and even their family or friend relationships. This further isolates the victim and maintains them captive to the scammer.
- Even after the manipulation is wearing thin, the fear of loss helps hold the victim to the scammer. They have invested so much in their relationship that it just has to be true.
Sadly, It Is All Just A Scam
Now you understand why you let the scamm