Geographies of trust

Wendy M. Rahn, Kwang Suk Yoon, Michael Garet, Steven Lipson, Katherine Loflin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Generalized social trust is an important component of social capital and has been linked to a variety of individual- and community-level outcomes, including low crime rates, effective government, and healthy and happy citizens. Drawing on a multicommunity survey conducted in several American towns and cities in 2002, the authors examine the individual and contextual origins of general social trust using the techniques of Hierarchical Linear Modeling. Based on prevailing theoretical understandings of social trust, the authors posit a comprehensive model to account for the contextual variation that remains after controlling for individual-level variables. Two community-level variables, voter turnout and commute times, emerge as important contextual predictors of social trust. The authors explore community attachment as a potential mediator of these effects, finding that it partially mediates the impact of commuting but not voter turnout, results consistent with their distinction between "experiential" and "cultural" theories of social trust formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1646-1663
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009


  • Community attachment
  • Multilevel models
  • Social capital
  • Social trust


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