Political Trust and Distrust

Political Trust and Distrust

The article introduces the idea that humans “evolved social and political institutions to resolve social conflicts from within and without”. The author also talks about how democracy requires much more trust than other forms of government and ironically causes more trust and distrust within political groups. The author also touches base on how Americans are more focused on conflict based on representative democracy than its role in cooperation. He even provides evidence that shows that Americans who identified as Democrat trust other Democrats more than Republicans, and other Republicans trusted Republicans over Democrats. I think this is interesting and when I really think about it, my grandfather tends to trust people who have similar political beliefs as him and have a negative opinion and distrust on this who hold different political views. It’s interesting to me that he can “determine” someone’s character just on their political belief.

@charlesmb24 reading response provides a very clear example. “ A perfect example[] is the current segregation and extreme division in politics in the US today – whereby the conclusions of this study can be directly applied to the extreme hostility between Trump supports (right-winged) and centrists or left-winged or the division between Liberals and Conservatives.”

People tend to make assumptions of Trump supporters and generally have a negative opinion of them and vice versa, people have negative opinions on left-winged people. (This is evident in Canada as well)

The author also talks about social identity and self-categorization theories, and basically, it’s when people label themselves from other people and they feel like they belong with the category they identify as and show favoritism to in-group members.

The author then brings up whether a person’s social identity (ex. Ethnicity, race, class..etc) compared to their political partisanship generated more or less trust discrimination.

I thought this was interesting because unlike how Garcia talks about how people generally would help someone like a stranger over a friend of theirs, because of similarity and how they are more competitive when it comes to their friend (people similar to them). In this case, people are biased towards people with similar political beliefs. Perhaps this does not apply when it comes to similarities in political beliefs/identities.


  1. Thanks for your post!

    I really liked your last thought in the end; however, I think it does apply to this political realm. Do you think that the difference could be due to the nature of the competition and the conditions? To be more precise, in Garcia et al.’s paper, perhaps the stranger has nothing to do with the competition or is not perceived as a threat due to a lack of information regarding similarity and differences. It is possible that it is also an individual competition which could affect their behaviour. On the other hand, in a political setting, it feels more like an intergroup competition where cooperation will be necessary. I also believe that the bias towards similarly minded people is due to perceived trust. How do you think perceived trust is played out in Garcia et al.’s generalization which you mentioned above? Is it relevant?

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  2. Thanks for your well written post. I was wondering to what extent you think the competition brought about in democracy brings separation between people. from the article, I have noted how partisanship can affect interpersonal trust. Do you think it would be rational if I said dictatorship is better than democracy because there is less division caused by different political parties, because there are no other parties other than the ruling party?

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  3. Thank you for referencing my blog post, I was pleasantly surprised to see my example analyzed further. I like how you expanded upon the idea and related it not only to Carlin and Love, but to Garcia et al as well. I totally agree with you regarding the distrust of Trump supporters leading to a more polarized society. Thanks again.

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  4. @blaiseappolinary8228 I’m glad that you enjoyed my post! I think that while democracy brings distrust among people it still is the best working government in my opinion. Democracy isn’t perfect and clearly has its flaws. I guess it’s ironic that a system based on trust causes so many people to distrust and separates people.


  5. @andrea7061 it’s interesting that you brought up Garcia. it almost seems like in Garcia’s example there is more trust towards strangers than friends (people similar to you). Which kinda contradicts how people are biased in this scenario towards people with similar thoughts to them (percieved trust).


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