Prior Attitudes, Salient Value Similarity, and Dimensionality: Toward an Integrative Model of Trust in Risk Regulation


  • 1Work reported in this paper was partly supported by the Programme on Understanding Risk, funded by a grant of the Leverhulme Trust (RSK990021); and partly supported by two grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, including a grant from the ESRC Science in Society programme (L144250037).


Although it is widely recognized that trust plays an important role in people's responses to various risks, there is still considerable conceptual disagreement about the different aspects of trust. There are at least 3 different approaches to trust: (a) dimensional, (b) salient value similarity, and (c) associationist. Three British datasets on genetically modified food were used to test the plausibility of a causal model that integrates these approaches. It appears that value similarity can be predicted by a combination of prior attitudes and perceived attitudes of the other, and that value similarity precedes other important trust judgments. The study suggests that various risk-relevant judgments are expressions of a more general attitude toward genetically modified food, and raises questions about the usefulness of detailed modelling.