The Moral Foundations of Trust


The Moral Foundations of Trust

This study seeks to explain why people place their faith in strangers, and why doing so matters. Trust is a moral value that does not depend on personal experience; we learn to trust from our parents. Trusting societies are more likely to redistribute resources from the rich to the poor, and to have more effective governments. Trust has been in decline in the United States for over 30 years. Uslaner uses aggregate time series and cross-sectional data to show that the roots of this decline can be found in declining optimism and economic inequality.


 Reviews:

"Trust is widely conceded to be one of the most complex, multidimensional, and misunderstood concepts in the social sciences. Eric Uslaner's book is a welcome respite in the midst of this empirical and conceptual confusion. Remarkably clear minded, this book provides an exhaustive analysis of the available data. Political scientists, sociologists, economists, and anyone who has been interested in the debate about declining social capital and civic involvement should read this book." Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

"This fascinating book is important reading for policymakers, scholars, and students. Uslaner puts forth a compelling argument about trust, based on careful elucidation of concepts and sophisticated analyses of a wealth of U.S. survey data. He then shows how this also holds for many other countries around the world and he tells us what needs to be done to bring about more trust in the future. Engagingly written with amusing anecdotes, the discussion of the data can also be understood by those not familiar with multivariate modeling." Holli Semetko, University of Amsterdam

"[Contains] provocative arguments it vigorously defends. [While it is] clearly written for an intelligent lay audience, the work offers much value to scholars as well."
Journal of Public Policy

"Trust is widely conceded to be one of the most complex, multidimensional, and misunderstood concepts in the social sciences. Eric Uslaner's book is a welcome respite in the midst of this empirical and conceptual confusion. Remarkably clear minded, this book provides an exhaustive analysis of the available data. Political scientists, sociologists, economists, and anyone who has been interested in the debate about declining social capital and civic involvement should read this book." Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

"...the author has taken great care to present his methods and findings in clear and jargon-free prose and tables, while placing technical discussion in the footnotes and appendices. As a result, the book should appeal to scholars regardless of their methodological preferences...The Moral Foundations of Trust provides a definitive account of where the trust literature has been, and where it might go in the future. Uslaner's views on that future clearly imply a refined, and perhaps a more important role for public administrators than previously believed. For that reason, this work warrants serious attention within the public administration community." Justin Marlow, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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