This study shows that social and political trust may diverge in the face of shared threats, and that this pattern is driven by negative information about crisis management. Leveraging a three-wave panel survey and an information-provision experiment in the USA during the COVID-19 crisis, our research reveals that negative perceptions of pandemic management lead to a decline in political trust and a parallel increase in social trust. This dynamic is pronounced among government supporters, who, confronted with COVID-19 challenges, experience a substantial erosion of political trust. Simultaneously, there is a notable rise in social trust within this group. Our analysis suggests that, as government supporters attributed more responsibility for the crisis to their political leader, political trust was supplanted by social trust. Disenchanted voters, feeling let down by institutions, sought support in society. Both the survey and the experiment underscore that societal shocks can prompt individuals to shift from relying on formal institutions to informal ones as a coping strategy. This research contributes a generalizable framework explaining how negative perceptions of crisis management can lead societies to substitute political trust with social trust, advancing our understanding of societal responses to shared threats and adaptive strategies during crises.

Social and political trust diverge during a crisis

Aassve, Arnstein;Capezzone, Tommaso;Cavalli, Nicolò;Conzo, Pierluigi
;
Peng, Chen
2024

Abstract

This study shows that social and political trust may diverge in the face of shared threats, and that this pattern is driven by negative information about crisis management. Leveraging a three-wave panel survey and an information-provision experiment in the USA during the COVID-19 crisis, our research reveals that negative perceptions of pandemic management lead to a decline in political trust and a parallel increase in social trust. This dynamic is pronounced among government supporters, who, confronted with COVID-19 challenges, experience a substantial erosion of political trust. Simultaneously, there is a notable rise in social trust within this group. Our analysis suggests that, as government supporters attributed more responsibility for the crisis to their political leader, political trust was supplanted by social trust. Disenchanted voters, feeling let down by institutions, sought support in society. Both the survey and the experiment underscore that societal shocks can prompt individuals to shift from relying on formal institutions to informal ones as a coping strategy. This research contributes a generalizable framework explaining how negative perceptions of crisis management can lead societies to substitute political trust with social trust, advancing our understanding of societal responses to shared threats and adaptive strategies during crises.
2024
2024
Aassve, Arnstein; Capezzone, Tommaso; Cavalli, Nicolò; Conzo, Pierluigi; Peng, Chen
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4062856
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