How do we even trust? A critique of economic approaches on trust formation


  • Maria Banu University of Bucharest



Trust, Trust formation, Rationality, Trustworthiness, Epistemology of trust, Warranted trust


The aim of this paper is to provide a review of trust formation models in early economic accounts and behavioral accounts of trust. Drawing on foundational theories of trust across several disciplines in the social sciences and empirical studies, I critically examine their assumptions and implications to identify the theoretical and conceptual gaps within each approach. I argue that neither approach explains successfully trust formation in interactions between individuals, due to a lack of clarity and robustness in defining trustworthiness and inadequately accounting for the role of trustworthiness expectations. Beliefs about others’ trustworthiness are central to trust. A robust account of trust formation must explain how we form such beliefs. To this end, this paper outlines an epistemological account of trust formation, meant to provide a more cohesive understanding of trust dynamics at the individual level.

Author Biography

Maria Banu, University of Bucharest

Maria Banu is currently completing her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Bucharest, Romania. In her thesis, she develops an integrative conceptual framework for the study of trust in the social sciences. Her research interests cover interpersonal and social trust, human decision-making and behavior, as well as their influence on society and policy-making. Maria holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, along with Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, and International Relations and European Studies. She works as a consultant with a tier one company in the field, advising authorities in the government and public sector. She specializes in public policy design, monitoring, and evaluation