Campus Units

Human Development and Family Studies

Document Type


Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Journal of Youth Studies




Much of the literature on interpersonal trust is quantitative in nature, using scales developed primarily with White middle-class and upper-class adults. To understand how another racial group of a different socioeconomic background and age views interpersonal trust, we considered the experiences of 22 low-income Black adolescents. The adolescents participated in a relationship education program and were interviewed about their interpersonal trust experiences. Results of a qualitative data analysis revealed that most adolescents defined interpersonal trust based on honesty and fidelity, with a particular emphasis on monogamy in romantic relationships. Adolescents identified direct messages from family members and personal relationship experiences as sources of socialization for interpersonal trust. Although some adolescents reported that the relationship education program enhanced their understanding of and willingness to trust, others maintained that trust can only be learned through personal experiences. Though the adolescents generally trusted family members, they experienced challenges trusting friends and romantic partners. Despite this, adolescents considered interpersonal trust a vital and a necessary part of romantic relationships. We discuss implications of the findings for relationship stability and satisfaction.


This accepted article is published as McElroy-Heltzel, S. E.g, Jordan, T. R., Futris, T. G., Barton, A. W., Landor, A. K., & Sheats, K. J. (2018). Sources of socialization for interpersonal trust: An exploration of low-income Black adolescents’ experiences. Journal of Youth Studies. doi: 10.1080/13676261.2018.1492099. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Taylor and Francis Online



File Format


Available for download on Monday, December 02, 2019

Published Version