Representative democracy requires a healthy dose of political scepticism towards its institutions. Blind distrust can induce alienation, whereas blind trust could make one susceptible to manipulation. However, to the extent that trust/distrust suggest a person has made a considered judgment, they could be helping to stimulate critical citizenship, civic engagement and vigilance. Nevertheless, the ‘two types of trust’ are commonly conflated in public debate and scientific research. CRITICALTRUST proposes a novel model of political (dis)trust to addresses that fundamental problem conceptually, theoretically and methodologically. Primary and secondary analysis of cross-national survey and experimental data will allow longstanding causal claims to be tested.