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Title: The quality of society : essays on measurement and trust
Author: Sibley, Elissa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 6398
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2015
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The progress of society is determined in part by its institutions (e.g. their levels of efficacy and corruption) and in part by dynamics within the population (e.g. the levels of tension between social groups). The quantitative measurement of relevant variables offers valuable insight into the extent and direction of social change. The key questions I address in this thesis are whether a subset of subjective indicators of the progress of society can be meaningfully used in time-series analysis (Chapter 2) and whether individual-level characteristics are predictive of self-reported generalised trust (Chapters 4 and 5). In the first substantive chapter (Chapter 2) I find that the sensitivity of subjective evaluations to real world events can destabilise the relationships between variables, resulting in a lack of invariance across time. This highlights the importance of testing for measurement invariance before using such constructs in substantive analyses and discourages time-series analysis using Harrison et al.'s (2011) evaluation of national performance domain. In the second and third substantive chapters (Chapters 4 and 5) I find support, respectively, for Uslaner's (2002) theory of the moral foundations of generalised trust and for Personality Theory (Delhey & Newton, 2003). Much emphasis has been placed on generalised trust as an indicator of social cohesion, and its apparent decline in recent decades has been cited by many as a cause for concern. My findings in Chapters 4 and 5 suggest that those who are owest in generalised trust are likely to score highly on depression and feelings of vulnerability. Future work should consider possible ways to increase social cohesion while addressing the likely concerns of those with low levels of generalised trust. Chapter 5 also compares the personality-based predictors of self-reported trust with those of behaviour as the Sender and Returner in the trust game. My findings do not support the use of the trust game as a behavioural measure of generalised trust.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; ESSEXLab
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: H Social Sciences (General)