Trust and Social Exchange Chapter uri icon


  • Trust and its complement, trustworthiness, are key concepts in political science. Trust is seen as critical for the existence of stable political institutions, as well as for the formation of social capital and civic engagement (Putnam 1993, 2000; Stolle 1998). It also serves as a social lubricant that reduces the cost of exchange, whether in reaching political compromise (Fenno 1978; Bianco 1994) or in daily market and nonmarket exchange (Lupia and McCubbins 1998; Sztompka 1999; Knight 2001). Researchers in this area face three key challenges. First, the concept of trust has been used in a multiplicity of ways, leaving its meaning unclear. Second, it is used to refer both to trust in government and trust among individuals (interpersonal trust). Third, it is sometimes seen as a cause and sometimes as an effect of effective political institutions, leaving the causal relationship between trust and institutions unclear.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilson, R. K., & Eckel, C. C.

complete list of authors

  • Wilson, RK||Eckel, CC

editor list (cited editors)

  • Druckman, J. N., Green, D. P., Kuklinski, J. H., & Lupia, A.

Book Title

  • Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science

publication date

  • June 2011