While researching trust in online sources of information, it was important for me to ask those I was interviewing what they thought about trust. As a result, I asked respondents the following question: “When I say “trust” what do you think and/or feel?”

These were the most common words, thoughts and feelings that emerged from my interviews with the four males and six females who participated in the journal-keeping part of my research project.


Intrigued to see if these notions of trust were more widespread, I drew up a survey which received 82 responses. Below are the most common words, thoughts and feelings from 77 females and five males from nine countries, answering the same question: “When I say “trust” what do you think and/or feel?”



After analysing the data, from 92 different individuals I feel confident in saying that 18 – 22 year olds think of ‘trust’ as something that occurs during a relationship. It’s strongly related to friends and family. When they trust someone, they feel that they can rely on that person, that they can be honest with that person and that they person will be honest in return. Trust according to these teens and young adults is believing someone – it’s strongly related to truth. Trust feels safe, comfortable and warm. Many also told me that trust is related to “secrets” and “no judgement”, as in, keeping secrets safe and that you can go to someone and share information with them without the fear of being judged.

For those interested in how men and women think of trust, the males I interviewed were more likely to mention words related to process, logic and rationale: “facts”, “don’t need proof”, “isn’t going to cause me issues”, “belief based on valid logic”, “progress”. Men were also more likely to say things like “trust is…” or “trust means…”. While speaking to women, they used far more emotive words to describe trust like “loyalty”, “honesty”, “comfort” and “authentic”. Women were also far more likely to link trust to “a feeling” or to say “I feel…”

To end off, it’s worth perhaps noting that some of the individuals I spoke to defined trust as to what it isn’t – trust isn’t lies and betrayal. Many also spoke of trust as being “easily broken” and ”hard to get back” or “not easily repaired” once broken. Trust for some takes time to build up, whereas others trust very easily. For those individuals who reported that trust takes time to build, they were also more likely to use the words “caution” and “suspicion” in relation to trust.