Do you trust people who are not like you?

Harvard Political Science professor Robert Putnam released a study recently which states that “the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”

I can understand being slightly less willing to trust someone who may be perceived as different from you, but not trusting anyone????? That seems like a bit much.

Do you agree with these findings?

One Love. One II.




About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

8 responses to “Do you trust people who are not like you?”

  1. l. renaissance says :


  2. Garlin II says :

    l [and everyone else], why not? what kind of differences matter? race? sex? gender? class? sexual orientation? accent?

  3. ellen says :

    all differences matter initially. its moving past our initial impressions/stereotypes/etc that will decide whether we will allow ourselves to trust or not trust.

  4. Garlin II says :

    I agree Ellen. I guess what I’m therefore asking is, what are the differences that make us choose not to trust another person?

  5. ellen says :

    The differences we are ignorant of/about. Ignorance equates fear and fear breeds distrust.

  6. Garlin II says :

    I see. It seems to me then that people must want to distrust others because so many are so willing to be or stay ignorant. What makes people choose to be ignorant, and in turn distrusful?

  7. ellen says :

    My opinion is fear causes people to choose to be ignorant. It is a nasty cycle.

  8. Garlin II says :

    Even nasty cycles can be broken at some point, even if it happens one person at a time.

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