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Unformatted text preview: s trust in the public, its
memory of the perceived public’s action, and its expectation of the public’s action is used to asses
its confidence in the public. Information about the government’s confidence in the public, paired
with information about its trust in the public, is used to fully determine the government’s
assessment of the public’s trustworthiness that will ultimately influence the government’s
judgment of the critical situation when it emerges. Our conceptualization of the trustworthiness of
the public is consistent with La Porte and Metlay’s (1996) model of institutional trustworthiness.
In this way, our bilateral-trust model depicts a multi-agent trust theory in which the trust that the
public places in the government is linked to the trust that the government places in the public
though several feedback mechanisms that cause the two constructs to co-evolve and determine
each other over time. In this sense, this theory is a formal version of the popular wisdom
(attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and author of Democracy in
America in 1835) — which says that “in a Democracy, the people get the government they
deserve” — but with a caveat: The people get the government they assemble over time via their
actions and their assessment of its trustworthiness.
The bilateral-trust model presents our latest thinking about the set of interacting drivers of trust in
government. This model, with 28 variables, captures a highly complex system of interacting
constructs. Although the number of feedback mechanisms that a variable in a model belongs to is
not the best measure of dynamic complexity, we use this metric as a proxy to identify the
increasing interconnectedness of the models presented in this paper and their increasing
complexity. Assuming that the structure of the model in question accurately and parsimoniously
captures the main features, given the purpose of the modeling effort, of the structure of the
system, this metric only represents the potential, not the actual, dynamic...
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