Trust and Inequality: Are Perceptions of Inequality Influencing Trust?
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Previous research has demonstrated a significant relationship between trust and inequality at both the individual and national levels (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010), but it is unclear whether the absence of trust produces inequality or vice versa. Large social surveys, such as the General Social Survey, that attempt to measure the concept of trust are flawed in that they assume that all respondents have the same conceptualization of the word “trust”, and furthermore leave much open to speculation as to whom respondents are referencing when answering general trust questions. The literature regarding trust is also problematic, as some theoretical underpinnings are outdated and inaccurate in light of developments across multiple fields in the sciences. This paper first presents an analysis of both trust and inequality, as social conditions today—when levels of trust are lower in survey responses since surveys on trust began in the 1970s—call for a more in-depth, empirical analysis of these concepts. This thesis has two foci. First, this paper examines the issues related to trust and inequality, which includes theoretical underpinnings and previous research. Second, this paper adds to the current literature by exploring the association between many aspects of the trust disposition and perceptions of inequality by utilizing primary research collected from the Spring 2018 semester at the University of Missouri—Kansas City (N = 122). Specifically, this study examines how perceptions of inequality alone may be impacting levels of trust in American society. The data reveals that perceptions of inequality and certain demographic factors are significantly related to certain trust relations.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion and conclusion -- Appendix A. Institutional review board notice of new approval -- Appendix B. Sample questionnaire -- Appendix C. Descriptive statistics for all demographic variables -- Appendix D. Descriptive statistics for all independent variables of inequity -- Appendix E. Descriptive statistics for all dependent variables of rust -- Appendix F, Comparison of institutional trust variables -- Appendix G. Regressions analysis results