Coping with Low-Trust Situations in Eastern and Western Europe: On the Role of Justice and Corruption as Buffers of Interpersonal Distrust
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University of Fribourg
Publication date: 2011-07-13
Polish Sociological Review 2011;174(2):181–194
This article focuses on the impact of interpersonal distrust on the perceived locus of control of the concerned person. It is argued that distrust triggers a psychological shift of the perceived locus of control towards distrusted others—a process, which may however be slowed down or even stopped by appropriate subjective or objective buffers. E.g. reliable law enforcement may have this buffering effect as well as the instrumentalisation of the state by corrupt practices. On the bases of interview data form the European Values Study, the article first shows for a great number of Eastern and Western countries the existence of the postulated negative impact of distrust on the degree of perceived internal control. In a second step, the article also investigates the buffering effects of trustworthy law enforcement and corruption. The statistical analyses demonstrate that in Central and Eastern Europe, corruption has a much stronger buffering effect than law enforcement, whereas in Western Europe, the strengths of the two types of buffers are just the reverse.