Fallacies & Facts on Trust

Trust is foundational to so many aspects of life. Healthy relationships and leadership require the deepest levels of trust. In John Maxwell’s short leadership book, Mentoring 101, he sites the fallacies and facts on trust as researched by sociology professor, Morton Hunt. Hunt observes:


  • Fallacy: Trustful people are more gullible.
  • Fact: Trustful people are no more likely to be fooled than mistrustful ones.

  • Fallacy: Trustful people are less perceptive than mistrustful people of what others are really feeling.
  • Fact: People who scored high on trust are actually better than others at reading people.

  • Fallacy: People with a poor opinion of themselves are more trustful than people with a good opinion of themselves.
  • Fact: The opposite is true. People with high self-esteem are more willing to take emotional risks.

  • Fallacy: Stupid people are trustful; smart people are mistrustful.
  • Fact: People with high aptitude or scholastic scores are no more mistrustful or skeptical than people judged to be less intelligent.

  • Fallacy: Trustful people rely on others to direct their lives for them; mistrustful people rely on themselves.
  • Fact: The opposite is true. People who feel controlled by outside persons and forces are more mistrustful, while those who feel in charge of their lives are more trustful.

  • Fallacy: Trustful people are no more trustworthy than mistrustful people.
  • Fact: Mistrustful people are less trustworthy. Research validates what the ancient Greeks used to say: “He who mistrusts most should be trusted least.”

Question: Which fallacy have you believed? How have you seen the facts at work in leadership and relationships?