School officials responsible for the growing international student populations struggle to find ways to help them navigate inconsistencies that may exist between federal regulations and institutional policies, and would benefit from increased understanding of ways to gain trust from diverse student populations. To determine whether student demographics might be related to propensity to trust, this study used the validated Propensity to Trust Scale (PTTS) by Frazier, Johnson, and Fainshmidt (2013), as well as a demographic questionnaire developed to measure students' background and educational attributes. Responses to an online survey from 576 international students from 71 countries were collected from a large private institution of higher education in the Western United States. Basic inferential statistics, including Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and post hoc analysis, identified differences among demographic groups within this student population. Findings indicated that students who were not native speakers of the dominant language had a lower propensity to trust than native English speakers, and female students had a lower propensity to trust than did male students. Findings also indicated that during the senior year of school propensity to trust was significantly lower than in earlier undergraduate years and in graduate school. Implications from this study include an emphasis on the value of considering individuals within their own unique cultural and educational contexts, and avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach to fostering trust with students. Additionally, school officials should not assume that propensity to trust is consistent among those with institutional similarities and must not stereotype students based on their backgrounds.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





higher education, foreign students, propensity to trust, trust