Get access

Three Forms of Interpersonal Trust: Evidence from Swedish Municipalities


Dag Wollebæk, Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


Social trust is usually treated as a dichotomy between particularized and generalized trust. In this article it is argued that a third distinct form, community trust, is neither particularized nor generalized and bounded in space rather than persons. Factor analysis of survey data from 33 Swedish municipalities (N = 6,453) distinguishes between particularized, generalized and community trust. Furthermore, regression analyses show that the three trust forms have partly distinct antecedents and linked to different types of behaviours. While generalized trust best predicts leaps of faith in relation to strangers, community trust is the only trust form significantly predicting taking part in local problem solving. Finally, multilevel analysis shows that community trust is the trust form most vulnerable to changes with respect to ethnic diversity and socioeconomic equality.