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Title: On the determinants of generalised trust : an investigation of the institution-centred and society-centred perspectives
Author: Lo Iacono, Sergio
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 3341
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the institution-centred and society-centred perspectives on generalized trust. Using advanced statistical techniques, I first assess some central implications of the two approaches employing observational data. In particular, I begin by suggesting that the scarcity of different goods in a region (lack of personal security and jobs) negatively affects our propensity to trust strangers, as we are less likely to believe that the state will fulfil its obligations. A Multilevel Structural Equation analysis of data from the European Social Survey 2010 and EUROSTAT confirms hypotheses put forward, suggesting that institutional trust has indeed a strong intervening function. Subsequently, moving to the society-centred perspective, I consider two main theoretical mechanisms (namely, the Bridging and Spillover effects) to explain why we consistently observe that interactions with people we know lead us to trust people we do not know. Using the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey 2000, I find support for the Spillover effect. However, findings are less convincing in respect to the Bridging mechanism. Finally, I focus on the Spillover effect and propose a novel design to accurately evaluate its causal validity. In this sense, I conduct an experiment where subjects play a series of Trust Games with anonymous others and are able to report their games’ experience to their social links. Changing the average number of links among subjects, I check if in communities characterized by a higher overall density of social ties, network-based reputation systems foster trusting behaviours with strangers. Evidence supports the validity of the Spillover effect, encouraging further research on the topic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology