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How to trust? The importance of self-efficacy and social trust in public responses to industrial risks

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Although a great deal of research has linked both self-efficacy and social trust to risk responses, one overlooked question concerns the association between self-efficacy and institutional trust. The purpose of this study was to investigate the main and combined effects of trust in the self and trust in responsible agencies to affective responses and information sufficiency. Survey respondents in this study were placed into one of four categories based on their levels of self-efficacy (high/low) and social trust (high/low), including confidence, independence, dependence and insecure groups. Based on survey data (n = 466), the accuracy of the four-group classification was tested. Indeed, we found that our classification system correlated with responses. Both self-efficacy and institutional trust were found to contribute to emotional risk responses, as well as risk information needs and preferences for risk information.
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Keywords: information preference; risk communication; risk response; self-efficacy; social trust

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology and Communication of Health and Risk, University of Twente, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands

Publication date: 01 September 2009

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