On Survivor, castaways spend a lot of time and energy talking about trust. Basically every episode, we fans are treated to some confessional or tribal council statement about the importance of trust.
But as noted twice in the last couple weeks, this season of Survivor features a lot of talk about trust, but no action. At multiple recent tribals, we’ve seen castaways explicitly say that there’s a lot of talk, but the vote will tell us if trust is earned.
What is trust, though? Intuitively, we all know how to define it, but trust is really a cognitive process that involves a whole lot of moving pieces. This week, we’re going to take a sort-of break from theory, and talk about the academic concept of interpersonal trust.
Basically, beginning around the 1970s, scholars became incredibly interested in the idea of interpersonal trust. This focus mainly comes from management researchers; it’s been shown that if there is a strong level of interpersonal trust within an organization, good things happen. And for this discipline of research, good things means more profits.
One of the main scholars in this area is a guy named Bill McEvily, a professor at the University of Toronto. If you were to take a look at his work, he’s spent a career illustrating how interpersonal trust is essential when making important decisions as part of group. A group … or maybe a tribe?
Let’s back up for a second, though. Interpersonal trust is often defined as the extent to which one person places trust in another individual or group of individuals, or how confident one person is to act on the basis of the actions of others. But here’s the thing, though, and this goes to what I talked about above and what castaways mentioned at tribal this season: Trust is not tangible, not actually earned or utilized except in situations involving uncertainty.
So while castaways clearly make alliances and talk about voting together, they don’t actually have trust in each other until it’s proven after an uncertain situation, like a tribal council. And that’s what we finally got this week.
Alison and Mike have been talking and talking and talking and talking about joining the Davids for weeks, but their actions never followed through with that promise. Instead, in many moments where they could have earned trust with Christian, Gabby and Nick, particularly, they didn’t. But it all worked out because by waiting, they got to jump over at the perfect moment, the one where their jump made for a Goliath-heavy new alliance.
After this tribal and Carl’s elimination, the castaways will go back to camp with high levels of interpersonal trust – they did exactly what they said they would and proved themselves to each other. And that means it’s a perfect opportunity to backstab each other … because they won’t see it coming. That’s what we now have to look forward to in the remaining weeks, I think.
So that’s it for this week. Let’s talk about the remaining castaways, though:
Angelina: Producers and editors just continue to do Angelina no favors. The way they framed her negotiation was hilarious and, of course, they seem to revel in her getting over-confident and then realizing things aren’t exactly what she thought. Good times. Really, it was just another week that proves she has no chance to win.
Kara: I don’t know man, is Kara really getting the Winner’s Edit™? I know others have posited that weeks ago, but I just couldn’t come around to the idea. Now, I think they may be right. Her increase in confessionals and the way she’s beginning to make things happen bodes really for her.
Gabby: The move this week worked out really well for Gabby. Unfortunately, it wasn’t framed as her move, but rather Christian working with Kara and Mike. However, if the previews are any indication, Gabby knows she needs to boot Christian for her to have any chance of winning. I’m really excited to see if she’s able to pull it off. If she does, she deserves to win. I’m not sure if she can do it, though.
Mike: Well, after a couple not-so-great weeks for Mike, this one looks to really help him. All of a sudden, we have a split amongst original tribes and the five-person alliance Mike made for this vote features more Goliaths than Davids. This is a good thing. Mike is also in a similar position to Nick in that nobody ever mentions him as a threat. He’s still looking like someone destined to make the finale, at least.
Davie: My only fantasy team hope remaining! Davie’s been edited really well of late and is playing an amazing game. But just like Nick, I wonder what being on the wrong side of this vote will mean for him in the end game. I’m still liking his chances, but I wonder if he’s going to come up a wee bit short.
Nick: After a seemingly endless run of stellar performances in episodes – really since Episode 1 – Nick finally came out of this episode not looking so great. Being on the other side of the vote, with two of his apparent closest allies (Christian, Mike), not telling him, is just not a good look. I have a feeling he’ll be able to work himself back into a power position, but I need to see it before all my optimism come back.
Alison: I’m not sure when, all of a sudden, Alison became a huge target, but she did a good job working herself out of that spot. Now, with that said, Alison already became the character archetype we see every season: The person who talks about moves, but doesn’t make them. And I don’t count this week since someone else made the move and she was going home without it.
Christian: Finally, Christian made a Big Move™ this week. While we all know he’s a huge threat socially and even physically at times, he’s been decidedly quiet in terms of strategy. So he made a move. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s a good one for Christian. He’s lost all his shields at this point and kind of hitched his wagon to Gabby, who hasn’t been very consistent and, as the previews show, knows she needs to ditch Christian to win.
All right then. That’s a wrap. Let’s talk next week and continue to enjoy this stellar season.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @PatFerrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.