Unformatted text preview: r time, especially when positive outcomes are consistently experienced.
Moreover, Barnes and Gill (2000), for example, discard performance (perceived outcomes) as a
determinant of trust in government but present citizens’ rising expectations as a likely explanation
for decreasing trust in periods when government performance seems to improve. We
conceptualize trust as a function of both experience and expectations. By using this multivariate
approach, we allowed for the possibility of having different levels of expectations and different
levels of experience of performance interact in the determination of trust. Furthermore, as we use
the construct memory of perceived outcomes to capture the experience of performance in our
model, we can account for a possible case in which actual government performance was positive,
but, as a result of problems in the perception process and/or memory loss, the assessment of
experience of performance was bad. These interacting processes can potentially help explain
times of high levels of performance and prevalent low trust in government, as described in the
literature (Hetherington, 1998; Keele, 2005, 2007; Mishler et al., 1997; Pinker, 2007).
The link between expectations and trust, however, has also been challenged in the literature.
Cook and Gronke (2005b, pp. 800-801) found that, “Americans would not expect that the
government will do the right thing, but neither would they anticipate that government will do the
wrong thing either. Instead, Americans would be willing to suspend their presumptions and to
watch the workings of politics and judge institutions and political actors accordingly.” Cook and
Gronke (2005b), in their investigation of skepticism and its effect on trust in government, provide
a rationale that, if true, would support the link between perception of outcomes (experience of
performance) and trust in government but would make the link between expectations and public’s
trust in government weak or inexistent. It is our belief that although some researchers have found 13 this link to be weak, the link exists, and it will m...
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