Trust and Risk Perception: A Critical Review of the Literature

Risk Analysis
Volume 41, Issue 3 Pages: 407-557 March 2021


Special Issue:40 Years of Social Sciences in Risk Research Reconsidered
Original Research Articles
Trust and Risk Perception: A Critical Review of the Literature
Michael Siegrist
Pages: 480-490
First Published: 02 May 2019
Many studies in the field of risk perception and acceptance of hazards include trust as an explanatory variable. Despite this, the importance of trust has often been questioned. The relevant issue is not only whether trust is crucial but also the form of trust that people rely on in a given situation. In this review, I discuss various trust models and the relationship between trust and affect heuristics. I conclude that the importance of trust varies by hazard and respondent group. Most of the studies use surveys that provide limited information about causality. Future research should focus more on experiments that test whether trust is a consequence of people’s attitudes or influences their attitudes toward a technology. Furthermore, there is a need for a better understanding about the factors that determine which heuristics people rely on when evaluating hazards.