Five Good Reasons to Trust a Crone

Remember the crone, the multi-faceted older woman from fairy tales, the archetype from modern psychology? She’s the old woman, often ugly, sometimes malicious, and always possessing magical powers due to her proximity to the next world. In Robert Graves’s writings  she is the third side of the Triple Goddess: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.

Her role is to give the enchanted maiden or the hero on his journey – the child of destiny – the magical amulet or golden apple to take them to the next stages of their quest. In her benign form, she’s the fairy godmother.

Data from the Trust Quotient 10,000 Survey

Be cautious of whiplash as we move from fairy tales to hard data here.

Trusted Advisor Associates has gotten more than 12,000 responses to the Trust Quotient Self Assessment Quiz. At the 10,000 point, about four months ago, we performed some serious analyses of what we had learned to date.

Some of the material was covered in Trust and the Standard Deviation. Another finding suggests that in fact you should trust the crone, and the old man too. The strongest correlation in our study shows that as we age, we become more trustworthy. 

Since this data is self-reported, it got me wondering what’s behind it. My first guess was that we become less self-absorbed as we get older, and our Self-orientation scores improve as we move away from Self-orientation and towards Other-orientation.

I was wrong. We actually improve on all four scores (Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and lower Self-orientation) as we age, and this holds true for men and women. Which begs the question: is everyone collectively kidding themselves? Or can we actually trust people more as they age? I believe the latter.

Five Good Reasons our Trustworthiness Goes Up With Age

Here are five reasons you should trust a crone, even though we are “sometimes malicious.” (The same probably goes for older men too, but I’ll stick with what I know.)

  1. We have nothing to prove. We’ve proven all that we need to in our lives, and we’re proud of it. We have every reason to tell the truth, and more of it. We’re not competing.
  2. We have greater capacity for intimacy (as defined by the Trust Equation) and fewer secrets to protect. Nothing embarrasses us.
  3. Our role is to help heroes and maidens on your journeys. We’re concerned about, but not invested in, the outcome.
  4. We have supernatural or magical powers, or at least very high wisdom, which makes us credible.
  5. And – trust me on this – even when we’re malicious it’s for your own good!
2 replies
  1. Darlene Santiago
    Darlene Santiago says:

     This is not particulary correct in fact age though having some part in factors of ones charecteristics in life. Yet does not have anything to comply with ones personality nor actions, example if a person whom is brought up an angry and selfish individual shall continue to be that same individual unless throughout life they undergo a transformation of themselves. Therfore I state that no one should believe there is some truth in trusting an individual due to older age.  To end this strongly opinionated statement it,  is merely ones personality and what lies with-in that in fact gives them the right to be trusted.

  2. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:


    What you say makes perfect sense, at least in theory.

    In fact, however, 12,000 people answered differently.  The older they were, the more highly they rated their trustworthiness.

    As a simple test, ask yourself:  "Am I more trustworthy now then when I was 20 years younger?"  The vast majority of us will answer yes.

    In any case, the data are the data.  They may or may not make sense, but they are the data. 

    But let’s assume you’re right, that age has no bearing on one’s trustworthiness.  If that is in fact true, but the vast majority of people overstate their trustworthiness as they get older, then that would imply older people are actually less trustworthy than younger people, because they overstate their own trustworthiness.

    Maybe that’s true–I can’t prove it isn’t–but I don’t think so.


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