• Trust-in-Government;
  • Social-Order;
  • Social-Representations;
  • Social-Status;
  • Political-Integration

Abstract:  Based on data from a Swiss survey study (N = 769), this research investigated individual-level determinants of trust in political authorities from a social psychological perspective. The study demonstrates that individuals with a low level of education who feel materially at risk and politically powerlessness expressed the lowest levels of political trust. This relationship was explained with differential endorsement of normative beliefs. A mediation analysis reveals that normative perceptions of Swiss society as being threatened by immorality and growing social inequalities accounted for the effect of perceived material risk on political distrust. The rejection of a duty-based citizenship norm (voting), in turn, mediated the impact of political powerlessness on distrust. Political orientation was unrelated to political trust. These findings illustrate the cognitive underpinnings of political alienation and suggest that perceived lack of political agency and perceived risk of social declassification are key factors in understanding political distrust.