Uber and Airbnb could reverse America’s decades-long slide into mass cynicism

Arun Sundararajan

By Arun Sundararajan

Over the last two decades, we have become accustomed to learning to trust based on the digital experiences of others.

By Arun Sundararajan

Today’s young Americans are pretty wary of their fellow citizens. In 2014, just 21% of people in the US born after 1980 said they believed that people could generally be trusted, according to the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey. Just a few decades ago, Americans were much more willing to expect good from others: in 1972, 40% of those under age 34 thought most people were trustworthy.

Against this backdrop, the dramatic rise of the sharing economy may seem puzzling. If young Americans are generally mistrustful of others, why are they so confident in the good intentions of their hosts on Airbnb?

The answer, as I explain in my new book, The Sharing Economy, lies with the changing way that we build trust in the digital age.

Read the full article as published in Quartz

Arun Sundararajan is a Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, Robert L. & Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow, and Doctoral Coordinator of IOMS-Information Systems.