A new study suggests that Norwegians are the most trusting, or naive, in Europe. Only 10 percent are considered to be in general “skeptical” of other people, after four out of five questioned said they think most can be relied upon.
The latest results from the European Social Survey, funded by the European Commission, placed 77.2 percent of Norwegians in the “naive” category. Next came the Danes, at 77.1 percent, followed by the Finns at 72.6 percent.
The three Scandinavian countries ranked in the top five of those considered most trusting (Sweden placed fourth at 66.5 percent), while those who are the least trusting of others came from Bulgaria (19.1 percent), Poland and Russia.
The survey questioned residents of 30 countries to measure levels of trust and skepticism. While many Norwegians are often viewed by foreigners as being reserved and somewhat guarded, they don’t see themselves as being such.
The levels of trust permeate everyday activities and traditions in Norway. The national trekking association DNT, for example, bases use of their mountain cabins and provisions on the honor system. If you spend the night in a cabin, or eat any of the food provided in the cupboards there, you write it down and leave money for it.
The same system applies to private toll roads. Motorists are expected to stop and voluntarily put money into a box to pay the toll. The chances of being caught and fined for not doing so are low, but most people pay their tolls.
As late as 1990 it was still possible to fly on domestic airlines in Norway without going through any security gates or metal detectors. Until a few years ago, many Norwegians left their homes unlocked. A recent rise in robberies and the crime rate in general is changing that habit.
“We are still a fairly homogenous society with few social differences,” Anders Todal Jensen, a professor at the technical university NTNU in Trondheim, told newspaper Aftenposten . “It helps that we also have well-functioning institutions, low documented corruption and equality under the law.” That, Jensen says, enhances feelings of trust in a society. Norway was recently also ranked as the world’s best country to live in, according to the United Nations Development Program