social trust [English]

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ Confidence that members of a community will behave, generally, with integrity, fairness, and a balance of altruism and self-interest.

General Notes

Social trust, as distinguished from personal trust, is based on a community as a whole rather than on individual relationships.


  • Castelfranchi, et al 2001 (†508 n. 5): There is stronger form of this in social trust, which is the feeling about the good disposition of the other his benevolence, or intention to adopt our goals and interest, and this support the belief and feeling of unharmfulness. (†791)
  • Killerby, 2005. (†467 p.5): “Social trust is linked in the literature with “bridging social capital”, which enables communication and cooperation between disparate groups … It allows people to move beyond familiar relationships, making cooperation portable and encouraging new forms of civic engagement ... It is analogous to the “weak ties” described in Granovetter’s (1973) seminal work on social structure.” (†679)
  • Killerby, 2005. (†467 p.10): “· social trust, which exists between strangers and underlies the broader social order” (†680)
  • Siegrist, Cvetkovich, and Roth, 2000 (†476 p.354): "Social trust is the willingness to rely on those who have the responsibility for making decisions and taking actions related to the management of technology, the environment, medicine, or other realms of public health and safety.” (†681)
  • Taylor et al. 2010 (†507 p. 1): Social trust is a belief in the honesty, integrity and reliability of others – a "faith in people." It’s a simple enough concept to describe. But it’s never been easy to figure out who trusts, or why. (†789)
  • Taylor et al. 2010 (†507 p. 2-3): The question of what explains social trust – and why certain societies are more trusting than others – has long fascinated social scientists. Many theories have been advanced – personal optimism; voluntary associations; homogeneous societies; equal opportunities; honest governments – but over the years, not all have stood up to empirical scrutiny. Cross-national surveys have found that the highest levels of social trust are in the homogeneous, egalitarian, well-to-do countries of Scandinavia, while the lowest levels of trust tend to be found in South America, Africa and parts of Asia. In these multi-national comparative surveys, the U.S. population ranks in the upper middle range of trust. (†790)
  • Thomas, 1998 (†475 p.176): “Social trust is a form of “social capital,” which a society gradually accumulates through the microlevel interactions of individuals and which then becomes a public good on which others draw.” (†678)