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On the Determinants of Generalised Trust: An Investigation of the Institution-Centred and Society-Centred Perspectives

Lo Iacono, Sergio (2017) On the Determinants of Generalised Trust: An Investigation of the Institution-Centred and Society-Centred Perspectives. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This thesis investigates the institution-centred and society-centred perspectives on generalized trust. Using advanced statistical techniques, I first assess some central implications of the two approaches employing observational data. In particular, I begin by suggesting that the scarcity of different goods in a region (lack of personal security and jobs) negatively affects our propensity to trust strangers, as we are less likely to believe that the state will fulfil its obligations. A Multilevel Structural Equation analysis of data from the European Social Survey 2010 and EUROSTAT confirms hypotheses put forward, suggesting that institutional trust has indeed a strong intervening function. Subsequently, moving to the society-centred perspective, I consider two main theoretical mechanisms (namely, the Bridging and Spillover effects) to explain why we consistently observe that interactions with people we know lead us to trust people we do not know. Using the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey 2000, I find support for the Spillover effect. However, findings are less convincing in respect to the Bridging mechanism. Finally, I focus on the Spillover effect and propose a novel design to accurately evaluate its causal validity. In this sense, I conduct an experiment where subjects play a series of Trust Games with anonymous others and are able to report their games’ experience to their social links. Changing the average number of links among subjects, I check if in communities characterized by a higher overall density of social ties, network-based reputation systems foster trusting behaviours with strangers. Evidence supports the validity of the Spillover effect, encouraging further research on the topic.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Sergio Lo Iacono
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 15:47
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2018 15:47

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