A brand new study from the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (IBOPE) says that 62% of Brazilians have little trust in other people, yet 72% have a lot of trust in their family. On one hand, it’s not too surprising that any segment of the population from any country have a healthy distrust of strangers (I consider humans to be tribal at heart). On the other hand, this information can help to better understand Brazilian life.
Some more numbers: “just 18% trust a lot in their friends, 11% in their neighbors and 9% in their work or school colleagues. A mere 6% have a lot of trust in other people. Another 31% said they have some trust in other people in general. And 62%, as mentioned, have little to none in others.”
The study, being a little bit more in depth, goes on to say that, across the country, anywhere from 71% to 89% of people think others want to take advantage of them in some way. The highest levels of distrust and therefore the lowest levels of trust are situated in the Northeast region.
I think that when looking at these kinds of studies done by a reputable organization, and where the results are seen as negative, it’s important to think about life experiences in general. I’ve lived in 3 countries and in 12 different states across those countries (and in even more cities within those states), and speaking frankly, it hasn’t taught me to trust more. I like to think I’m a nice person and treat others well but I’ve been burned too many times by being that nice person, enough that I know better now. In fact, it was in Brazil that I finally learned to wise up.
Part of life is about assessing risk and then choosing to go forward or go down another path. My general distrust is just me assessing that possible risk, and that doesn’t mean I don’t get into “trouble” sometimes doing things I hadn’t planned on doing, I still do! And it also doesn’t mean I don’t help someone in need when possible. But I’m wiser about making those choices. If you want to look at the IBOPE study another way, you could just as easily say that Brazilians are quite good at assessing risky situations*. That being said, there is such a thing as being too weary, but rather than say “[Insert nationality] do this or that”, it’s better to say that each person hopefully has the capacity to make their own choices.
* Although some things are mandatory, like voting, so one can assess all they want but they’re still told to vote.
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