Trust is complex: it is a multilevel and institutionally variegated concept acquired through different pathways. This paper breaks down the complexity to provide a framework that can be used to assess innovations designed to build greater trust. The basic building blocks are trust norms, beliefs held by individuals, shared widely across society, about the conditions necessary if trust is to be placed in other persons, organizations or institutions. Survey, interview and observational data underpin the analysis of how citizens come to trust major institutions and what might be done to build trust. Trust building in response to what is called resistant defiance to authority generally contributes to increases in public perceptions of institutional integrity; meaning that the public accepts institutional power as legitimate and come to view authorities as using their powers appropriately and responsively to fulfil their purpose. In contexts where dismissive defiance is in play, that is, citizens refuse to defer to authorities and psychologically cut themselves off from obligations, trust building is a less certain process with less certain outcomes.