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Unformatted text preview: es an inquisitive tone in
population response that fosters creativity, improvement, and true democracy (Cook et al., 2005b;
Mishler et al., 1997).
In our experimental work, we found a group of individuals who expressed that their base level of
confidence will not be changed by the occurrence of critical events. These individuals, whom we
call skeptics, present a flat line when their base confidence level is graphed as a function of the
time horizon of interest (see figure 8). Individuals who fall in this category, when interviewed,
expressed that although they truly believe that the government will do the right thing, they also
believe that the results likely to be achieved are uncertain because of protecting a country against
terrorist attacks is an enterprise of such high complexity. In this sense, they explain, their
expectation is that sometimes the government will succeed, but not always; therefore, when
something wrong happens, it will be well within their expectations and it will not change their
basic level of confidence in the government. Although an invariant baseline does not necessarily
represent a low level of confidence, it certainly does not reflect high levels of confidence in the
government, which has led us to locate this group in the high-trust/low-confidence quadrant.
The public’s assessment of the government’s trustworthiness will determine, at least in part, the
public’s judgment of the situation, and, consequently, it will influence public’s action. The 17 public’s action, in turn, as shown in Figure 7, affects the way in which outcomes are produced
and plays a critical role in the feedback mechanisms that link outcomes, expectations, and trust
formation. In this sense, our model allows us to identify a feedback mechanism with the potential
to explain trust and trustworthiness dynamics under a wide set of combinations of confidence and
trust in a given population. Although the unilateral-trust-in-government model proposes a much
richer fabric of interacting constructs than its predecessors, we determined, after continued
analysis, that an important element present in the government-public interaction equation still
needed to be charact...
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