First of all, how can we even define trust? The most common definition, I guess, is being sure that a person or idea will never fail us. But being sure doesn't really allow for anxiety. And here, my main question comes in.

In everyday life, we often say that we trust someone (or something), but at the same time, we are afraid that the person we trusted will fail us. Is that a contradiction (maybe even a kind of hypocrisy) or not? I hope this won't end up in a yet another unsolvable relativism vs. absolutism dispute and that my question is clear enough.


  • I voted to close because as I see it, the question is only "Do we really mean trust when we say trust", which, as it stands, isn't a philosophical question. – iphigenie Jan 12 '14 at 17:59
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about psychology only. CogSci may be an appropriate StackExchange site to ask this question. – Rex Kerr Jan 12 '14 at 18:50
  • Alright, sorry then. – Dunno Jan 12 '14 at 22:37
  • I disagree. This is a valid question for this forum. This is not a question on psychology; rather, it's about semantics and logic - the building blocks of language. – wildBillMunson Nov 21 '14 at 13:54

It's not necessarily a contradiction. (By the way, the question the way you have put it has to do with logic and the philosophy of language and has nothing to do with psychology.) Before we begin, let's take a look at what definitons of the words "trust" and "anxiety" Merriam-Webster gives:

Trust - belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

Anxiety - fear or nervousness about what might happen

Now, here's the catch: trust is something you have to a certain degree, but anxiety is something you either have or you don't. In other words, predicate like "I trust in X" "belongs" to the fuzzy logic, while the predicate "I have anxiety because I don't know if X will fail me or not" "belongs" to both the fuzzy logic and classical logic. It is surely a contradiction to say "I trust X completely and have anxiety because I don't know if X will fail me or not" , but it's not a contradiction to say "I trust X a little bit and have anxiety because I don't know if X will fail me or not". Taking this all into consideration, we can understand now why you even have this question: you speak English, and English (like virtually all natural languages) is vague. You cannot know for sure whether a person claiming "I trust X" really means "My level of trust in X is 100%" (i.e. "I trust X completely"), or if she really means "My level of trust in X is 99%" (can be obviously any number reasonably close to 100). So, in short the answer is that the statement "I trust X and have anxiety because I don't know if X will fail me or not" is a contradiction if and only if by "I trust X" the person claiming this really means "I trust X 100%". In all other cases, it is not technically a contradiction.



I was taught (in computer security course) that to trust someone means that he CAN hurt me but i bellieve ha will not do so. We don't trust common people on the other side of world, they does not interract with us, so we don't have anything to trust them with. We don't trust somoeno trying to stab us with knife, we KNOW he is trying to hurt us. We DO trust doctor when he is operating on us (if we didn't we would not let him to do it). We trust cashier that change he is giving us is not forget.

Another part is, that we asses how likely is something bad to happen, and how big effect it will have. If these two combined are high, we feel anxiety.

So we can trust someone and be anxious (eg. every open surgery is dangerous, even when doctor is skilled and not milicious).


You don't only act based on what you think about people, but also on what you think would happen if you acted in one manner or an other. You may think that no one is perfect, that to err is human, but that with encouragements, people have better chances to achieve goals.

So I would say you can sincerely trust someone and still have some doubts on the result of their actions. From doubt to anxiety, there is only a little step, whether you consider that a mistrust step is up to you. You can even even wonder, aren't you mistrusting yourself? That is, your ability to live placidly whatever uncertain events may happen?


Trust I believe is a personal thought. For each one of us, our perception of trust differs. Anxiety on the other hand is more or less a part of every person's life. Life would be meaningless if there weren't any worries. Overcoming our fears builds our character and consciousness. In a way, trusting a person or an idea is generally hard for most people. It is kind of a contradictory relationship between trust and anxiety, and it would be hard to trust or overcome fears without the need of the other.

The funny thing about contradiction is that it is everywhere, deeply rooted in everything we see and perceive. It plays a supportive role to the principle of duality without which life would simply not exist.


Everyone trusts everyone, what differs is the level of trust we have for each person.

Also trust evolves as you interact with a person, there are actions or encounters that you experience with a person that decrease or increase the trust you have in a person.

So the question for me is, can you trust someone 100%. Because if you trust someone 100% then there can be no room for anxiety, because by nature 100% trust means you are sure they won't fail 100%.

The other reason for anxiety might be that even though you can trust someone 100%, the person is limited in their ability to deliver since they do not have control over all variables. So the anxiety part might be an issue of saying hope nothing prevents him/her from doing what they promised. i.e they could die, be incapacitated for a brief period thus preventing them from actioning out the promised thing.

I guess that's why we need a deity.

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    Why should we trust a deity? – Brilliand Jun 23 '14 at 18:21

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