Nav: Home

How emancipation contributes to trust in strangers

November 20, 2017

In many countries, human empowerment - including freedom of expression and action - tends to increase people's generalised trust in other people, particularly strangers. However, such an increase is usually gradual, reaching its peak in affluent, modernised democracies. In contrast, in countries with below-average levels of development, people, especially educated ones, often demonstrate a lack of trust in strangers, according to researchers of the Higher School of Economics.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11205-017-1724-z

It is generally accepted that the more prosperous a country, the higher the level of generalised trust among its population. This is largely due to emancipation, i.e. human empowerment in various spheres, such as civil rights, material freedom, freedom of expression, and others. These are the findings made by Christian Welzel, Chief Research Fellow of the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR), and Jan Delhey, Professor at the University of Magdeburg. However, the researchers' previous studies of factors contributing to generalised trust gave contradictory results for different countries.

Generalised trust, considered as a key component of social capital, has been a major research focus in the last three decades. There is consensus among researchers that trust in strangers - i. e. people seen for the first time - is the main indicator of generalised trust. It is a type of out-group trust, alongside trust in people of a different religion or ethnicity. According to the World Values Survey (WVS) waves 5 and 6, this type of trust, compared to other types, is the lowest in most countries.

Anna Almakaeva, Christian Welzel and Eduard Ponarin, researchers with the HSE LCSR, examined the relationship between trust and emancipation, using data from WVS waves 5 and 6 for 63 countries.

The WVS determines the level of generalised trust based on the answer to the question, 'Do you trust people you meet for the first time?' To measure the level of human emancipation, an index developed by Christian Welzel was used, comprising three dimensions of emancipation: existential, characterised by the GDP at purchasing power parity; psychological, characterised by the emancipative values such as equality, freedom, autonomy and self-expression; and institutional, measured by the civil rights index.

Their findings confirm that generalised trust and human empowerment are positively related, but this relationship is nonlinear. Trust does not arise immediately with emancipation, but begins to grow after a certain level of emancipation is attained. Therefore, people tend to trust strangers only in highly developed and modernised countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Canada.

Human empowerment contributes to higher levels of subjective wellbeing, civic participation, emancipative values, ethnic tolerance, and education. These factors, according to the authors, are significant contributors to trust in highly emancipated countries. However, the study revealed a curious relationship between trust and education.

In countries with low levels of emancipation, such as Yemen, education can have an opposite effect, i.e. the lower a person's education, the more they tend towards generalised trust, while highly educated people tend to have lower trust in those who are not in their close circle. According to the authors, this phenomenon can be partly explained by Japanese researcher Toshio Yamagishi's idea that trust is a form of social intelligence. Where living standards are low and security is not guaranteed, education enhances people's ability to see potential problems in their social environment.

There is an idea that civic participation and generalised trust are parts of the same 'social syndrome'. However, this may also be true only of highly developed countries.

The authors conclude that societies with medium and high levels of human empowerment tend to develop a specific form of generalised trust as a civic virtue and a moral value.
-end-


National Research University Higher School of Economics

Related Education Articles:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.
Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.
How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?
Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.
Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.
The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.
Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.
How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.
Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.
Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.
More Education News and Education Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.