Former US President Barrack Obama went on record this week to formally endorse his former Vice President Joe Biden, in a 12-minute video. True to Obama’s style, his speech was articulate, empathetic, motivational, and personalized. 

But it wasn’t just that; there was clearly more to it. Let’s dig deeper. What Obama did in that video was reinforce the ‘trustworthiness’ of Biden to American citizens. 

Here is a simple equation that can help you evaluate and build trust. 

The Credibility and Reliability of a person essentially build the Cognitive Trust you have in them. These factors make you ‘think’ they are competent. The term ‘cognitive’, in this context, is associated with reasoning or thinking. 

The Openness and Self-Orientation of a person essentially make up the Emotional Trust you have in them. These factors make you ‘feel’ they are approachable. The term ‘emotional’, in this context, is associated with feelings. 

These two lenses were defined by sociologists J. David Lewis and Andrew Weigert in their paper, Trust as a Social Reality. It is important to note that trust is a combination of both cognitive and emotional factors and doesn’t depend on only one. 

Here I try to deconstruct Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden from the lens of the Trust Equation

Samta Arora is the Director of Learning Impact at Harappa Education. A nerd at heart, she spends the wee hours on weekends deconstructing actions and words of world leaders. 


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