The Paradox of Trust in a “Low” Trust Society: Insights from the Case of Greece- Effrosyni Charitopoulou

Event time: 
Monday, April 1, 2024 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Henry R. Luce Hall LUCE, 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Low levels of social trust are widely seen as an impediment to economic development and social cohesion. Trust is measured mainly via surveys: metrics are used extensively in cross-national studies and percolate back to inform societal debates. However, the way in which trust is empirically approached is subject to two problems: measurement bias and the relation between attitudes and behavior. We address both problems focusing on Greece, currently ranked as one of Europe’s least trusting societies. We do so by using four methods: survey questionnaires, ethnography, trust games, and a field experimental exercise. Our combined findings strongly suggest both measurement bias and a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior. We explain this discrepancy and explore the drivers of trusting behavior. Our findings carry important implications about how we measure, study, and theorize interpersonal trust as well as the practice of assigning a unique trust score to entire societies.

Effrosyni Charitopoulou is a political sociologist. She investigates the dynamics of intergroup relations, focusing in particular on local and refugee interactions. She focuses on modern Greece, using both contemporary and historical case studies, but also on other European countries. Her ongoing book project, Encounters on the Migrant Trail, investigates the ways in which host communities in Greece interacted with asylum seekers in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. She is also working on projects relating to the legacies of refugee integration as well as state exclusion policies on identity, trust, and social cohesion. She holds a DPhil in Sociology from Nuffield College at Oxford. Her doctoral studies were funded by Nuffield College, the A. S. Onassis Foundation, and the A. G. Leventis Foundation. She is currently a Hannah Seeger Davis Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton.