The Economics of Honesty
How the Cost of Trust and the Value of Deception Shape the World
Communication is the glue that holds society together; the ways we communicate with each other are fundamental to what makes us human. We are communicating when we send a letter or shout across the room; we also communicate through the clothes we wear, the gifts we give, and the glances we avert.
We invest a lot of energy into making sense of other people and managing the impression we make on them. Yet we do not generally understand the tension between the costs and benefits of honesty and the costs and benefits of deception. In The Economics of Honesty: How the Cost of Trust and the Value of Deception Shape the World, Judith Donath offers a revealing and original look at how these competing interests work.
Using examples from the animal world as well as the human one, The Economics of Honesty illuminates the ways in which communication has evolved, and shows how it continues to do so. Judith Donath zeroes in on the central problem in communication—figuring out which messages are honest and which are not—that takes on additional importance today, as technology seems to be changing what it means to be human.
Given the ubiquity of information, its malleability, and the speed at which it is transmitted, it is essential that we understand the balance between trust and deception if we are to keep communication reliable enough to work.