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Essential trust: What trust is, why we need it and what happens when it's lost

Two men hold their interlaced hands in the air as they march with other members and allies of the LGBTQ community to the White House as part of the Pride and Black Lives Matter movements on June 13, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Two men hold their interlaced hands in the air as they march with other members and allies of the LGBTQ community to the White House as part of the Pride and Black Lives Matter movements on June 13, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Trust is a bond. It holds everything from families to entire nations together. But are we living in a world where those bonds are breaking?

WBUR's On Point brings you a week-long series, "Essential trust: What trust is, why we need it and what happens when it's lost.”

In the series, we explore how trust is created, from the neural networks of an individual human brain, to institutions and societies at large.

How do we rebuild trust once it’s broken? And why is trust so essential for our survival?

Episode breakdown

Episode 1. Trust in the animal kingdom: It’s easy to think that evolution rewards ruthlessness, but is trust the trait that allowed humanity to survive and thrive? We look to the animal world for answers. Available/rebroadcast November 28.

Episode 2. The brain science of trust: What happens in our brains when we trust someone? Neuroscientists explain how our brains process trust, and why it's worth the risk. Available/broadcast November 29.

Episode 3. Lessons from Brazil's trust crisis: For decades Brazil has ranked near the bottom of surveys that assess trust in society. In one recent survey, 63% of citizens said they distrust their communities, compared to 20% in the U.S. What has led to such low levels of trust in Brazil, and what impact has this had? Available/broadcast November 30.

Episode 4. How healthy skepticism builds trust: Trust is essential to a functioning society. But absolute trust is risky, too. We examine the role of skepticism in the act of trusting. How do we strike the right balance to achieve a good life and a good society?  Available/broadcast December 1.

Episode 5. How to rebuild trust in America: Trust — in our institutions, our leaders, in each other — can erode away. But trust can also be rebuilt, even after devastating events. How can humans rebuild trust? Available/broadcast December 2.


How to listen

Radio

  • From Monday, September 19 to Friday, September 23, hear a daily installment of Essential trust on your local NPR station during On Point.
  • We also air live through our site at 10 a.m. ET here.
  • Find more ways to listen to On Point here.

Podcast

  • Each afternoon, you’ll find the series in On Point’s podcast feed, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

We want to hear from you

If you’ve lost trust at one point in your life and had to rebuild it, what did it take to do that? What about trust in our national institutions? What would it take to rebuild that? Tell us your story by leaving a voicemail at 617-353-0683. You can also find us on Twitter or Facebook.

About the host

Meghna Chakrabarti is the award-winning host and editor of On Point. Based in Boston, she is on the air Monday through Friday.

Meghna Chakrabarti serves as host and editor of On Point. (Liz Linder / WBUR)
Meghna Chakrabarti serves as host and editor of On Point. (Liz Linder / WBUR)

The Alliance for Women in Media honored On Point's episode "A Look Back at 1992 Los Angeles And America Since Rodney King" with a 2022 national Gracie Award for Best News Documentary. The Alliance for Women in Media also gave Meghna an honorable mention for best nationally syndicated non-commercial correspondent/host.

On Point's episode on Los Angeles since Rodney King also won a 2022 regional Edward R. Murrow award for best news documentary. In 2021, On Point won a National Edward R. Murrow award for best news documentary for "What the President Knew." The show examined presidential decision-making before 9/11 and the COVID pandemic.

Chakrabarti is the former host of Radio Boston, WBUR’s acclaimed weekday local show. She's the former host of Modern Love: The Podcast, a collaboration of WBUR and The New York Times (2016-2020) and was the primary fill-in host for Here & Now, NPR and WBUR's midday show. She reported on New England transportation and energy issues for WBUR’s news department.


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