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On the Meaning of Political Trust: New Evidence from Items Introduced in 1978

Paul R. Abramson and Ada W. Finifter
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 25, No. 2 (May, 1981), pp. 297-307
DOI: 10.2307/2110854
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110854
Page Count: 11
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On the Meaning of Political Trust: New Evidence from Items Introduced in 1978
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Abstract

In 1978, the University of Michigan Center for Political Studies introduced four new political trust questions that, more than the standard trust items used over the course of two decades, have specific referents--President Carter, the Carter administration, and the U.S. Congress. These four new questions, apart from their changed objects of reference, use the same wording as two of the older trust items. Thus, observed correlations between the new items and old items may reflect both substantive conceptual associations among the various political referents and associations resulting from overlapping methods variance, i.e., from the mere similarity of question wording. We find that there are problems caused by similar question wording and demonstrate that analyses of the new items will not offer any easy solution to the problem of interpreting the standard political trust index.

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