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A brief overview of approaches to defining social trust

Tamilina, Larysa (2018): A brief overview of approaches to defining social trust.


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The main objective of this paper was to analyze the concept of social trust and the mechanisms of its formation. A systematization of the recent literature on the notion of trust is provided and is accompanied by a discussion of their drawbacks. The discussion concludes with a proposition to use a new classification for the literature on the meaning of trust which is derived based on four mechanisms: rational choice, psychological, institutional, and reflexive. The rational choice mechanism presupposes the prevalence of reason in trust formation processes that is based on an assessment of others’ trustworthiness. The psychological mechanism relies on emotions and reflexes and can be considered affective since trust is formed based on a positive affect for the object of trust. The institutional mechanism stresses the role of formal and informal institutions that are developed within the constraints of a dominant cultural ideology and history. Finally, the reflexive mechanism is regarded as a leap of faith resulting from interaction and suspension and is based on the positive perception of a trustee’s trustworthiness in the future.

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