A470C2AAd01 - Investigating the Dynamics of Trust in...

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Investigating the Dynamics of Trust in Government: Drivers and Effects of Policy Initiatives and Government Action 1 Ignacio J. Martinez-Moyano 2 Michael E. Samsa Thomas E. Baldwin Bradford J. Willke Andrew P. Moore [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Decision and Information Sciences Division Argonne National Laboratory Software Engineering Institute Carnegie Mellon University 9700 South Cass Avenue, Bldg. 900 Argonne, IL 60439 4500 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Introduction Governments face important challenges today, including the erosion of the social systems, terrorist activities, and global warming. In order to be successful, governments must have support from its citizens in the form of confidence and trust. (For a review of the literature, see Blind, 2007.) Because “trust is an important barometer of public satisfaction with government, and has important electoral consequences” (Keele, 2005, p. 884) and because “low trust helps create a political environment in which it is more difficult for leaders to succeed” (Hetherington, 1998, p. 791), understanding the dynamics of trust in government seems central for determining the ways to generate government actions that lead to adequate government performance. Building on the work by Baldwin, Ramaprasad, and Samsa (2006), which examines the components of public confidence in government as they relate to prevention of terrorist attacks, we create a framework for understanding the dynamics of trust in government and how these influence policy initiatives, government actions, and, ultimately, outcomes observed by the public. Following the rationale presented in the literature (Keele, 2005, 2007), we hypothesize that people’s trust (or distrust) in government has a direct effect on the success of the government’s initiatives. Similar to the work of Cook and Gronke (2005b), we conceptualize a trust continuum from low to high in which the population falls in a normally distributed fashion under normal circumstances (see Figure 1). Cook and Gronke (2005b) identify what they call an active trust/distrust continuum, in which, at the low end, individuals have a very strong distrust in government (see Cook et al., 2005b, p. 790 Figure 1). This conceptualization is consistent with our study in that we hypothesize that individuals at the low end of the spectrum will have a higher likelihood of engaging in actions to counter government initiatives. 1 This work was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This article has been created by UChicago Argonne, LLC, Operator of Argonne National Laboratory (“Argonne”). Argonne, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, is operated under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. The U.S. Government retains for itself, and others acting on its behalf, a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license in said article to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government.
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