Grading generalized trust across Europe

Rene Bekkers, Bart Sandberg

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We report a mega-analysis of generalized social trust responses by respondents (n = 330,526) in the European Social Survey (2002-2014) and respondents in other surveys (n = 317,833), conducted in the same years in the same countries. We find markedly higher levels of trust among the ESS respondents than among respondents in other surveys. We report evidence from a comparison that the use of the 0-10 scale is the most important cause of the higher level of trust among ESS respondents. We find that surveys conducted in the same years and countries as the ESS but forcing participants to make a choice between ‘most people can be trusted’ and ‘you cannot be too careful’ yield lower levels of trust. Offering participants a middle option, ‘it depends’, mitigates this effect
somewhat, but does not eliminate it. Also the use of Likert-type scales ranging from 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 yield lower levels of trust than the 0-10 scale used in the ESS and other surveys. We discuss potential causes for the higher level of trust
on 0-10 scales and discuss the implications for the measurement of other social attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSamenhang in Europa: eenheid in verscheidenheid
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings zesde Nederlandse Workshop European Social Survey – 16 maart 2018
EditorsStéfanie André, Gerbert Kraaykamp, Roza Meuleman, Marion Wittenberg
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherData Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9789085551195
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019

Publication series

NameDANS Symposium Publications

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