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Men and women's interpersonal trust: An empirical investigation.

Bulloch, Sarah Louise. (2010) Men and women's interpersonal trust: An empirical investigation. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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In its capacity as a cornerstone of social capital, interpersonal trust is identified as a key element for the functioning of civil society and the development and maintenance of democracy. In the wake of claims that social capital is dwindling in the United States of America (Putnam 1995, 2000), much research has tracked trends over time and across populations to better understand the causes and consequences of inter-personal trust. The association between interpersonal trust and gender, however, has never been made clear. It is this lacuna that the thesis addresses. The research focuses on the ways in which women's interpersonal trust, as measured by questions in social surveys, is different to men's. It is argued that currently trust research falls short of integrating theoretical insights with empirical results and that linking theories of trust to individual survey-based trust questions assists notably in this process. The thesis also examines the impact of measurement in relation to trust and its relationship with gender. The empirical analyses rely upon 5 different measures of interpersonal trust, across UK cross-sectional probability sample surveys. Multiple regression, multiple group confirmatory factor analysis and multi-level modelling techniques are applied. Findings indicate that the concept of interpersonal trust, as well as the 5 survey items by which it is measured, can be divided into 'moralistic' and 'strategic' forms of trust. Gender differences in these forms are argued to result, in part, from gender differences in risk aversion and relational, care-based ethics. Empirical analyses find discrepancies in gender differences across the 5 trust measures. Women are less trusting than men in the context of strategic forms of trust, whilst men are less trusting than women in the context of moralistic forms of trust. The diesis goes beyond essentialist analyses of gender difference by evidencing some diversity amongst women and men's trust according to socio-demographic and socio-economic differences. The findings also support facets of social capital theory, highlighting that an individual's inter-personal trust is determined by the neighbourhood in which they live. Yet results additionally indicate that national averages of gender differences in trust do not always hold at the local level. An examination of how men and women respond to the various trust questions suggests that they interpret some of the items differently. Linking the measurement of trust to appropriate theories of trust, the thesis provides the first conceptually-grounded empirical evidence base of the association between interpersonal trust and gender. In so doing, this thesis contributes both substantively and methodologically to academic work on trust, as well as social capital.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Bulloch, Sarah Louise.
Date : 2010
Contributors :
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 09 Nov 2017 12:11
Last Modified : 16 Mar 2018 16:52

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