Communication and Trust: A Linguistic Analysis

  • Anna-Maria MeckEmail author


In times of shifting media, communication shifts as well. With these changes, today we observe a fundamental change in trust attribution away from formerly established systems. Institutions and the classic media have been sources of trust for a long time but recipients nowadays would rather trust their family, friends, and even strangers with Rachel Botsman having shaped the term “Distributed Trust” to refer to this phenomenon. If it is no longer institutions people trust in, they trust individuals which bears the danger of arbitrariness as these individuals are not backed and monitored by any institutional tradition, reputation, or control. This becomes even more critical as (social) media paves the way for a tremendous amount of individuals to position themselves quickly and effortlessly on numerous channels 24/7. Whilst being exposed to this kind of sensory overload, people do not only have to consider whom to trust and whom not to multiple times a day, they furthermore have to decide at once. What does it take to assign or deny trust though? This article is concerned with the how exactly trust and communication are intertwined: Is it the voice itself which demands for trust or rather the content? If so, how does that content have to be structured to evoke trust? How is trust transported linguistically? And what role does the listener hold? As the established question is multi-layered, it is crucial to first define trust and the character traits that form it. Hereinafter—and only focusing on spoken language—paraverbal, nonverbal as well as content-related features leading to a development of trust on the listener’s side are compiled and described to answer the question “How can communication be utilized to build trust?”.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VUI.agencyMunichGermany

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