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Trust, Confidence and Cooperation model: a framework for understanding the relation between trust and Risk Perception

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The nature of the relation between trust and Risk Perception (RP) has recently become a focus of increased interest among risk management researchers. Some argue that trust is strongly related to RP and that it therefore might prove to be a key to the development of more effective risk communication techniques. However, others claim that trust is weakly related, if at all, to RP and that it would be of little use to risk communicators and managers. A recent analysis of relevant empirical studies (Earle, Siegrist and Gutscher, 2007) supported neither the strong- nor the weak-relation argument. A wide variety of studies indicated, instead, that the relation between trust and RP is conditioned by certain critical contextual factors. Although much remains to be learned about these factors, the most important among them appear to be: (a) the judged moral importance (to individuals) of the risk management issue, and (b) the individuals' judged personal knowledge of or familiarity with the issue. These factors are elements of a general model of the relations among Trust, Confidence and Cooperation (TCC), the TCC model. In this article, we demonstrate how the TCC model can generate useful hypotheses about the relation between trust and RP in important risk management contexts characterised by different levels of moral importance and knowledge.

Keywords: risk perception, trust, confidence, cooperation, TCC model, risk management, risk communication

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