Trust, Perceived Risk, and Attitudes Toward Food Technologies1


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    The authors thank the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (now Food Standards Agency, Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) for their support of the research presented in this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. Richard Eiser, Centre for Research in Social Attitudes, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TP, UK. E-mail:


There is substantial empirical evidence that both trust and risk perceptions influence public acceptance of new technologies. We reanalyzed 3 studies (on food technology) to compare whether (a) both trust and perceived risk are independently and directly associated with acceptance, or (b) the relationship between trust and acceptance is mediated by perceived risk. In support of Interpretation a, the (negative) correlation between trust and perceived risk was reduced when controlling for acceptance, whereas the correlation between trust and acceptance was somewhat reduced when controlling for perceived risk. Controlling for trust had little effect on the correlation between perceived risk and acceptance. These findings suggest that expressions of trust and perceived risk often might be reflections of prior attitudes toward the technology.