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Lady Gaga on Trust

Generation Why by Aik Kramer

Lady Gaga: “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother f#ck*r’s reflection.” Whether you’re a superstar dealing with a large group of fans or whether you’re a ‘regular’ person in a relationship, trust impacts us all. Trust is the lifeblood of relationships. Without it, friendships would simply have no point, romance would wither away and die… Trust even gives us stability and satisfaction at work. But what is trust exactly? Is it a feeling? A perspective? Can we actually ‘manage’ it?

In an interview, Lady Gaga was asked how she manages trust in a world where people try to exploit her fame. Lady Gaga responded, “You can’t live in fear, but it’s important to be protective of the things that are important to you no matter what.” We all need to trust and be trusted, it’s not just something that Lady Gaga needs to worry about: “I don’t think trust is any different for me that it is for anybody else.”

Trust in Ourselves, Relationships and Organizations

Trust is based on our psychosocial development, the interactions we have with others and in organizations. At the level of ourselves, trust is “…a belief, expectancy, or feeling deeply rooted in the personality.” This means that the way we were raised or treated as children impacts how we trust today.

Beyond ourselves, trust is within relationships. It is defined as the expectatations we have of others, the risks involved when depending on them and the situations that affect our relationships together. When Lady Gaga was talking about her level of trust, she was referring to this level. She revealed her expectations of others with whom she interacted.

Trust is also based within and between organizations through the expectations we hold about our future interactions. Say you’ve been treated poorly at a store, you may no longer trust that company or brand because you would expect the same treatment in the future.

Lady Gaga shows us how trust works at a basic or impersonal level. For relationships that are more intimate, a different theory of trust is more fitting.

“Calculus Based Trust” is a theory of measuring trust based on a calculation of the threats or risks involved if trust is violated or the rewards gained if its maintained. In the interview, Lady Gaga made a statement to increase the threat of punishment to people that may violate her trust:

“I’m from New York city, I’ve fought from the bottom all the way to the top and I’m a pretty ‘no-shit’ bitch when it comes to that sort of stuff and it’s really hard to pull the wool over my eyes.”

Short term gain or long term relationship

This type of trust is also encouraged by the gains involved when trusting others and being trustworthy, including a repulation as a trustworthy person. Lady Gaga could have emphasized the rewards if these particular people maintained her trust as a means to motivate them.

A useful metaphor to describe how this type of trust works is the game snakes and ladders (shoots and ladders). Like the game, “forward progress is made by climbing the ladder, or building trust, slowly and stepwise. People prove through simple actions that they are trustworthy, and similarly, by systematically testing the other’s trust. In contrast, a single event of inconsistency or unreliability may “chute” the relationship back several steps-or the worst case, back to square one.”

Even for someone that wants to violate Lady Gaga’s trust to gain a short-term reward, they may risk loosing their trustworthy reputation. Based on a calculation, “If the costs of depending on someone’s behavior outweigh the benefits, we are typically inclined to either change or terminate the relationship.” With this in mind, Lady Gaga may have no choice but to be a “no-shit bitch” and leave those people behind to protect herself from the costs of trusting them.

Lady Gaga on Trust:


Aik Kramer

Aik Kramer (LLM) works as a professional mediator, researcher and consultant. He specializes in public policy mediation. He has worked for the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs, The National ombudsman and various municipalities. In 2007 he founded, a platform for young mediators. MORE >

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