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The Origins of Political Trust in East Asian Democracies: Psychological, Cultural, and Institutional Arguments


While the importance of social and political trust has been well documented, there is a lack of scholarly consensus over where trust originates. This article tests three theoretical arguments – social-psychological, social-cultural, and political institutional – on the origin of political trust against three East Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan). The empirical analysis from the AsiaBarometer survey illustrates that political institutional theory best explains the origin of political trust in East Asian cases. Citizens of these East Asian democracies have a high level of political trust when they believe that their governments perform well in management of the national economy and political representation of elected officials. Meanwhile, social-psychological and social-cultural theories explain the origins of social trust, but not political trust. The evidence reveals that socially trusting people are not automatically politically trusting; social trust and political trust originate from different sources and do not transform from one to the other.

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Japanese Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 1468-1099
  • EISSN: 1474-0060
  • URL: /core/journals/japanese-journal-of-political-science
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