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Test of a Trust and Confidence Model in the Applied Context of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Risks

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Trust is an important factor in risk management. There is little agreement among researchers, however, on how trust in risk management should be studied. Based on a comprehensive review of the trust literature a “dual-mode model of social trust and confidence” is proposed. Trust and confidence are separate but, under some circumstances, interacting sources of cooperation. Trust is based on value similarity, and confidence is based on performance. According to our model, judging similarity between an observer's currently active values and the values attributed to others determines social trust. Thus, the basis for trust is a judgment that the person to be trusted would act as the trusting person would. Interpretation of the other's performance influences confidence. Both social trust and confidence have an impact on people's willingness to cooperate (e.g., accept electromagnetic fields or EMF in the neighborhood). The postulated model was tested in the applied context of EMF risks. Structural equation modeling procedures and data from a random sample of 1,313 Swiss citizens between 18 and 74 years old were used. Results indicated that after minor modifications the model explained the data very well. In the applied context of EMF risks, both trust and confidence had an impact on cooperation. Results suggest that the dual-mode model of social trust and confidence could be used as a common framework in the field of trust and risk management. Practical implications of the results are discussed.
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Keywords: Confidence; electromagnetic fields; mobile phone; risk perception; social trust

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2003

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