From More in Common, Two Stories of Distrust in America:

Interpersonal distrust stems from an uncertainty around someone’s motivations and predictability. The root of this uncertainty is the perception that the other person is different and does not share opinions, worries, or goals. An effective way to address interpersonal distrust is to close this perceived difference gap. One way to do this that research has shown to be effective is by emphasizing an inclusive superordinate identity. Research in college campuses show that emphasizing a strong university identity for students was related to increased positive attitudes and likelihood of forming crossrace friendships among Black and white students.40 In a similar experiment, Democrats and Republicans experienced less threat when their shared American identity was made salient. It is important to note that promoting a common identity does not entail reducing or erasing other identities, but rather shifting the focus. For instance, two people can be from different parties or religious communities, but still connect and share common goals through a shared and salient identity of being a parent.

America has long confronted the difficulties in building trust across diverse populations and often trust among certain groups of Americans has come at the expense of justice for others. Strategies to build trust going forward will need to address these longstanding issues as well as newer dynamics such as the reality that many of our interactions with one another are intermediated by some form of technology or media platform. Such strategies would benefit from more institutional actors—especially government—organizing resources more intentionally to build the knowledge base for how to cultivate trust in an interconnected, inclusive, and vibrant multi-ethnic democracy