Decreasing trust in industry and political systems and influence on risk perception and behavioural responses to adverse events


In the last decade, the trust in industry and political systems has significantly decreased, which sociologists partially explain with better education, the rise of citizens' expectations and a general increase of public aspirations and demands of institutions (Renn & Levine, 1991). An additional factor for growing dissatisfaction and the decrease of trust in institutions is the pluralization of values and lifestyles (Renn, 1995). However, this does not indicate a decline of relevance of trust for the management of risks. On the contrary, public institutions are always forced to legitimate their actions, especially when faced with accidents (Rohrmann & Renn, 2000). Although mismanagement can be covered up by referring to the alleged randomness of the events or by labelling it as unpredictable, public institutions can be blamed and hold responsible for events they did not prevent or mitigate properly (Luhmann, 1986). Trust in authorities influences both risk perception and people's behavioural responses to adverse events (Rohrmann & Renn, 2000).

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