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Trust vs. Mistrust: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 11, 2023
Trust is a firm belief in reliability; mistrust is a lack of confidence or doubt about reliability.

Key Differences

Trust, derived from the Old Norse word "traust," implies confidence, assurance, and a firm belief in the reliability or truth of someone or something. It's a foundational aspect of healthy relationships, enabling cooperation and social cohesion. Mistrust, on the other hand, stands as its antithesis. It suggests skepticism, doubt, or suspicion regarding the truth, reliability, or intentions of another.
While trust encourages openness and vulnerability, mistrust breeds caution, hesitancy, and can erect barriers in relationships.
Trust is often cultivated over time, built upon repeated positive experiences and evidence of consistency. Mistrust can be born out of negative experiences, betrayals, or simply a lack of sufficient evidence to build trust.
In the societal context, trust is a vital glue that binds communities together, fostering collaboration and shared endeavors. Mistrust, however, can fragment communities, create divisions, and hamper collaborative efforts.

Comparison Chart


Firm belief in reliability
Lack of confidence or doubt about reliability


Old Norse "traust"
"Mis-" prefix + Trust


Positive, foundational
Negative, skepticism

In Relationships

Fosters closeness
Creates barriers

Societal Impact

Encourages cooperation
Hinders collaboration

Trust and Mistrust Definitions


The trust aims to preserve historical sites.


Lack of confidence.
She felt mistrust towards his motives.


Belief in reliability.
I put my trust in her judgment.


His secretive behavior aroused mistrust.


Financial arrangement.
The property is held in trust for the child.


Absence of faith.
There's a general mistrust of politicians in that region.


He expressed his trust in a positive outcome.


Her claims were met with widespread mistrust.


Legal obligation.
The trustee has a trust to manage the assets properly.


Mistrust of authority was evident in the protests.


Firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance
Trying to gain our clients' trust.
Taking it on trust that our friend is telling the truth.


Lack of trust or confidence
I viewed the stranger's advice with mistrust.


The condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in one
Violated a public trust.


To regard without trust or confidence
He mistrusted his lieutenant.


Is trust always positive?

Generally, trust has positive connotations, but misplaced trust can be detrimental.

Can trust be used in a financial context?

Yes, trust can refer to a financial arrangement where assets are held for beneficiaries.

What can give rise to mistrust?

Betrayals, negative experiences, or lack of information can lead to mistrust.

How is mistrust defined in relation to trust?

Mistrust is defined as a lack of confidence or doubt about reliability.

Does trust have legal implications?

Yes, especially in contexts like trust funds where there's a legal obligation.

Can mistrust be overcome?

With open communication and proven reliability, mistrust can be addressed and potentially overcome.

What's the origin of the word "trust"?

It originates from the Old Norse word "traust."

How does trust impact societies?

Trust fosters cooperation, collaboration, and communal harmony.

What emotions are linked to mistrust?

Mistrust can evoke caution, anxiety, and skepticism.

What does trust primarily signify?

Trust primarily signifies a firm belief in someone's reliability or truth.

How is trust built?

Trust is often built over time through consistent positive interactions.

What societal issues can mistrust highlight?

Mistrust can indicate systemic issues, corruption, or unaddressed grievances.

Can you "place" your trust in someone?

Yes, it means you're relying on or having confidence in them.

Can mistrust be justified?

Yes, in situations where there's evidence of deceit or inconsistency.

What emotions accompany trust?

Trust can be accompanied by feelings of safety, security, and warmth.

Are trust and faith synonymous?

They're similar, but trust is often based on evidence or experience, while faith might not require it.

Can organizations work effectively in an atmosphere of mistrust?

Mistrust can hamper collaboration and efficiency in organizations.

How does mistrust affect relationships?

Mistrust can create barriers, diminish intimacy, and prevent open communication.

How is "mistrust" formed linguistically?

By adding the "mis-" prefix, denoting opposition, to "trust."

Can mistrust be used as a verb?

Yes, as in "I mistrust his intentions."
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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