What has been referred to as the crisis of trust in social institutions has deep connections with communications, whether it be declining trust in news media and journalism, debates about the power of digital platforms and trust in online environments, questions surrounding media effects, the rise of political populism, or how trust or mistrust shapes interpersonal and intergroup communication. At the same time, trust in communications research has something of a “hidden history” when compared to disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, political science, and economics. Through a systematic literature review of uses of the concept of trust in six journals published by the International Communication Association—Journal of Communication; Communication Theory; Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; Human Communication Research; Communication, Culture & Critique; and Annals of the International Communication Association (formerly Communication Yearbook)—this article undertakes a chronological and thematic analysis of how research into trust has evolved among communication researchers from the 1950s to 2020. It concludes with a discussion of the distinctive contributions of communications as a scholarly field to trust studies more broadly.

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