Growing to Trust: Evidence That Trust Increases and Sustains Well-Being Across the Life Span

Michael J. Poulin*, Claudia M. Haase

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Across the globe, populations are aging, which presents an unprecedented challenge to individual and societal well-being. We seek to (a) replicate and extend previous work on age-related differences in interpersonal trust and (b) examine associations between trust and well-being across the adult life span. Study 1, a cross-sectional study of 197,888 individuals (aged 14–99) from 83 countries assessed between 1981 and 2007, showed that (a) older versus younger adults showed higher interpersonal trust and (b) higher trust predicted higher well-being, especially for older adults. Study 2, a nationally representative three-wave cohort-sequential longitudinal study (spanning 4 years) of 1,230 individuals in the United States (aged 18–89), showed that (a) interpersonal trust increased longitudinally across age groups and (b) higher trust predicted increases in well-being longitudinally and vice versa. These findings suggest that interpersonal trust may be an important resource for successful development across the life span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-621
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015


  • age
  • social development
  • trust
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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