As with our needs described in Maslow’s hierarchy, our trust levels ladder up to foster an ultimate sense of being.

The fifth and final level in this analysis reflects our need to realize our maximum potential once all other lower levels needs have been satisfied. This so-called “self-actualization” motivation becomes the ulterior motive behind all our actions and our reason for living – which is, for some, the greater good.

Trust, in this case, is manifested in the confidence people exude through their accomplishments and the respectable role they play in society – from teaching literacy to poor children every day to wining a once in a lifetime Nobel Prize.  This self-confidence, in turn, came from people also trusting them to act on behalf of others, and not only of themselves.

In the digital world, self-actualization is actually the reason why sites like Wikipedia are so successful and hugely popular. How else would an encyclopedia be created with information from the users themselves?

One has to believe that (most) people editing Wikipedia pages are doing so because they feel the need to share the knowledge and have the best intentions to provide the most accurate information available to them. And when that does not happen, there are other people that believe in and trust the integrity of the medium to step in and correct the information.

Many other technology platforms also rely strictly on peer collaboration. Often, they work remotely, rarely meeting in the “real world,” to create new software programs, solve bugs and even break codes if national security is at risk.

One may also view the posting of customer reviews online as another act of self-actualization with the interest of helping others to either benefit from the same experience they’ve had or prevent others from experiencing something unpleasant.

Bloggers, in the same way, look to express views that will be useful to readers, from informational to entertainment content. In most cases, only when this loop is complete and readers come back for more, the full realization of the blogger’s work is truly fulfilled.

These apparent selfless motives and actions are what ultimately illicit trust into others to believe the information online and use it to make their own decisions. And when these actions mean something greater, it becomes better for the publisher and the viewer.

  • Read about all other trust levels starting here

‘Til next time. Tchau!
Raquel