On the inside of generalized trust: Trust dispositions as perceptions of self and others

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3 Citationer (Scopus)


Generalized trust correlates strongly with many desirable institutional and societal characteristics and for this reason, variations in the level of generalized trust have been the object of intense scrutiny. However, the subjective contents of generalized trust have only been the object of theoretical, rather than empirical, investigation. This article adds some first, key insights into this issue and provides findings which fundamentally question the way we think about generalized trust. It investigates the subjective content of different levels of generalized trust in a mixed methods study analysing how trust dispositions relate to tolerance, solidarity and social identity. The study combines multiple correspondence analysis of survey data and thematic analysis of interview data in an iterative research design. The study suggests that generalized trust varies in multiple dimensions, rather than only one as assumed in survey items. First, generalized trust varies in a dimension of generalizability between whether trust should be generalized or not, rather than whether one should trust or not. Second, it varies in a dimension of justifications between assumptions of shared norms of trustworthiness and rational cooperation. In addition, the importance of experienced trustworthiness for generalized trust varies between different trust dispositions.

TidsskriftCurrent Sociology
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)3-26
Antal sider24
StatusUdgivet - 1 jan. 2019

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