What Makes Us Loyal? Dr Rachel on Loyalty for ABC Radio


Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, unflagging optimism, unconditional love – can be elusive to humans — John Grogan

This morning I was on ABC Radio Brisbane discussing what makes us loyal to brands as well as to people. It was only 6 minutes so I didn’t get into too much detail, but the interview touched on trust. I wanted to say some more here about trust to add to the content of the interview below.

We toss the word “trust” around left and right and make major life decisions based on it. But what does the word actually mean? And how does it relate to loyalty?

According to Charles Feltman, there are four distinct dimensions to trust:

  1. competence,
  2. reliability,
  3. sincerity, and
  4. care.

For a detailed description of each dimension, click here.

Trust and loyalty have one thing in common as I see it. With both loyalty and trust, I am making something I value vulnerable to another person’s actions.

As Feltman says, when you trust someone, the thing you make vulnerable can range from concrete things like money, a job, or a particular goal, to less tangible things, like a belief, a cherished way of doing something, your “good name,” your health or your sense of well being. Whatever you choose to make vulnerable to another’s actions, you do so because you believe their actions will support it or, at least, will not harm it. Some people tend to extend trust to others easily and with little or no evidence it is warranted. They only withdraw trust it if is betrayed. Others believe that people must earn their trust by demonstrating trustworthiness.

Whether you extend trust more or less easily, you do so by assessing the probability that the other person will support or harm what you value in the future. In this sense, choosing to trust or distrust is a risk assessment. If we assess trust as high and risk as low, over time we become loyal.

In the beginning however, I believe loyalty to a person, place or brand always begins with how that person or place makes us feel. Which is where I begin this interview. Take a listen and let me know your thoughts below.