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Learn about the

Of Trust

What is trust (leadership) exactly?
How does trust works in our brain?
And which biological mechanisms
of trust evolutionary emerged and
how to use this in cooperation?

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Learn how to gain trust as a leader

Using the evolutionary building-blocks of Trust in the Brain

Lectures & Masterclasses

By International Topspeaker (TEDx) and bestseller author Erik Schoppen

Evolution of Trust

L e c t u r e / M a s t e r c l a s s

Discover how trust works in our brain. What are the functions of trust? Which ancient evolutionary mechanisms are behind trust, and how can you influence these? How does our brain distinguish biological and digital trust?

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Rebuilding Trust

L e c t u r e / M a s t e r c l a s s

This keynote focuses on how to restore our social, organisational, technological and societal trust systems. Trust is essential for change, social cohesion and leadership. For example, we need trust in sustainability to solve the climate crisis.

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Trust Leadership

M a s t e r c l a s s / B o a r d r o o m

In his Trust Masterclass - which covers the human brain, our daily decisions and behaviors, trust and leadership - he shows how to build trust and deploy trust from a social, digital and sustainable (brand)management perspective.

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Learn from Trust in the Past
to (re)build Trust in the Future

Trust (in each other and in the future) is essential for change, connection, empathy and leadership. In his lectures, Erik Schoppen shows the integral functioning of trust inside and outside the brain, and how, with the right emotions and motivations, to build future-proof trust to sustainably change behavior.

Which mechanisms drive trust, and how to positively influence behavioral change in the current and future connected age? For example, people look for purpose (meaningfulness), autonomy and self-determination (personal development), but also for social contact and cooperation (within teams), and a deeper connection with the living environment as a whole (connectedness). Trust also helps to foster collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders, which can be crucial for achieving success in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.

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The neuroscientific study of trust is a relatively new field that focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms underlying trust and its relationship with other psychological processes, such as perception, cognition, emotions, trust attitudes, and behavior. For purposeful and sensitive leadership it is necessary to fully understand the neurobiology of trust and its role in human social interactions. This is also import for making reliable future predictions.

Trust is a psychological and social phenomenon that is related to the way in which individuals interact with each other. It involves a belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of another person or thing. In terms of cognitive functioning, trust involves several different mental processes.
Trust starts with perception, the process by which we gather sensory information from the environment and use it to evaluate the trustworthiness of other people or (nonliving) agents like brands. Cognition allows us to evaluate the reliability and predictability of others based on past experiences. Emotions help us to evaluate the value of our interactions with others, while attitudes represent our overall evaluation of others. Finally, behavior is the tangible expression of our trust in others. Together, these processes work together to influence our decisions about who to trust and how much to trust them, and how to make future predictions that people trust.

Reconstructing reality
Perception is the process by which we gather sensory information from the environment and use it to construct a mental representation of the world around us. This process is not a direct reflection of reality, but rather an individual reconstruction of the mind that is heavily influenced by our prior knowledge, beliefs, and expectations. It is estimated that a mere 95% is reconstructed using information already stored in our memory systems. So, perception plays a key role in the development of trust, as our brains use sensory information from the environment to evaluate the trustworthiness of others. For example, we might use visual cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to determine whether someone is trustworthy or not.

Trust Biases
However, our perception and available information of trustworthiness is not always accurate. Our prior knowledge and beliefs (biases and heuristics), and expectations (future predictions) can influence how we perceive others, leading us to either overestimate or underestimate their trustworthiness. For example, if we have had positive experiences with someone in the past, we are more likely to perceive them as trustworthy, even if they are not.

Cognition is important for trust in reconstructing our subjective (not-measurable) reality and non-personable measurable knowledge (where we rely on). It allows us to evaluate the reliability and predictability of (living) beings, or (nonliving) agents like brands, based on rational knowledge and emotional experiences. For example, if we have had positive experiences with others in the past, we are more likely to trust them in the future.
Therefore, the ability to predict how the (near and far) future will look like and how others will behave is an important aspect in trust. This involves making inferences about the intentions and motivations of others, as well as anticipating their actions based on past experiences. This ability is related to the cognitive process of mentalizing, or the ability to understand the mental states of others.

Information Evaluation
Another aspect of trust is the ability to evaluate the credibility of information. This involves weighing the evidence and arguments presented by others, as well as considering their past behavior and reputation. This ability is related to the cognitive process of critical thinking, or the ability to analyze and evaluate information in a logical and rational manner.

Emotions play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of trust relations, as they help us to evaluate the value of our interactions and cooperations with others. Trust involves a belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of another person or thing, and this belief is often accompanied by emotional reactions. Positive emotions such as happiness, joy, or love, are typically associated with feelings of trust, and can help to build and strengthen trust (relationships). While negative emotions can undermine and weaken it. Feelings is fear, anxiety, and anger, can arise when trust is broken or violated. When someone we trust behaves in a way that is unexpected or disappointing, we may feel betrayed, hurt, or angry. These negative emotions can be particularly powerful and can lead to a breakdown in the trust relationship.

Trust Attitudes
Trust Attitudes also influence trust, as they represent our overall evaluation of others. For example, if we have a positive attitude towards someone, we are more likely to trust them. Overall, trust involves a complex interplay of cognitive processes, including mentalizing, critical thinking, and emotional regulation. These processes work together to help individuals navigate social interactions and build relationships with others.

Behavior refers to the actions or reactions of an individual or group in response to a particular stimulus or situation. Behavior is important for trust, as it is the tangible expression of our trust in people and leaders, or in objects and agents (such as brands ore organisations). For example, if we behave in a way that shows we trust someone or something, such as by sharing personal information or relying on them for support, we are signaling our trust in that person or in a brand. Behavior is a psychological concept that can be conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary, and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, environment, and past experiences.

Trusting on the actions of others
Behavioral trust also refers to the degree to which a person trusts the actions and behavior of others. Behavioral trust is based on the belief that other people will behave in a way that is fair, honest, and beneficial to both themselves and others. It is different from cognitive trust, which is based on the beliefs and attitudes that a person holds about other people. Behavioral trust can be influenced by a variety of factors, including past experiences with others, cultural values, and social norms.

Our brain is constantly making predictions about what will happen next based on past experiences. It uses a combination of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral trust processes to make predictions in the near and far future. Cognition involves the use of our mental abilities, such as perception, memory, and reasoning to make future decisions. And feelings and emotional reactions (towards others) let us cope with new unforeseen situations. Finally, behavioral processes involve the use of our past actions and behaviors to make predictions. For example, if you are walking and you step on a stable boulder, your brain predicts that the ground will be solid - it matches your prediction model. But if the rock moves, your brain receives a 'prediction error' and adjusts its prediction for possible future steps. This is how the brain learns and adapts to rely on new situations. By (re)builidng trust your brain influence future trust decision-making and future outcomes.

Trusting on the actions of others
Trust is an important concept in behavioral economics because it can impact people's behavior in ways that are not always consistent with traditional economic models. For example, a person may be more willing to engage in a decision put forward by a leader if they trust that person, even if the decision is not in their immediate self-interest.

Further reading

Books & Publications

The Impact of Brands on People, Markets and Society - Build Bridge Bond Method for Sustainable Brand Leadership discusses different concepts of Trust and Trusting Sustainability. This publication is published in Strategisch merkenmanagement, 4th and 5th BNL Editions.
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The used trust theory is published in Strategisch merkenmanagement 5 (Strategic Brand Management, 5th Benelux Edition, Dutch), as studied by Erik Schoppen during his research on Trusting Sustainability at the University of Groningen and Hanze University Groningen.
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Interactive Masterclasses

Both lectures and masterclasses can be useful learning experiences, therefore we offer an interactive and more hands-on mix between the two. The interactive masterclasses do not only provide a dynamic and engaging learning experience about trust theory, but also allow participants to explore and discuss the different concepts of trust in future scenario thinking. Exploring trust in scenario planning is important because it helps to build confidence and consensus among stakeholders and trust in their developing relationships.

About The Lecturer

H.S. (Erik) Schoppen is a much sought-after keynote speaker on brain, brand, behavior, sustainable (brand) trust and leadership. As a trust expert he clarifies the effects of trust systems on our brain and in society. His mission is to promote future-oriented sustainable thinking, trust and leadership, as it motivates people and businesses to change their behavior and develop a more positive look towards the future. He is a management bestseller author and lectures brand management, design innovation, neuroscience, psychology, and sustainable behavioral change at Hanze University Groningen. He researched Trusting Sustainability at the University of Groningen. He received his master's degree in advanced studies in virtual media in 1997 with the 'online privacy awareness' and behavioral research project GarbagePark.com, which allowed him to conduct (ethical) behavioral research on digital trust on the web, and making people aware of online privacy. Since then he has been involved in innovation, branding, design and human behavior in the psysical and virtual world.