What are the political consequences of trust? A test of cultural and institutional theories in Russia

William Mishler, Richard Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


Trust in political institutions and in other people is hypothesized by cultural theories to be essential for making democracies work. Trust is equated with diffuse support and linked to the stability and effective functioning of democratic regimes. Institutional theories, in contrast, question the importance of trust for democratic support and emphasize institutional performance instead. A structural equation model using New Russia Barometer survey data tests cultural and institutional theories of regime support. The results confirm cultural arguments that institutional trust encourages political involvement and contributes to public support for democratic ideals, whereas they contradict the hypothesis that trust is critical for political support. Much stronger support exists for institutional theory's claims about the importance of economic and political performance. Cultural influences, however, appear somewhat larger than institutional theories allow and may become larger still during the longer term, suggesting the need to integrate cultural and institutional theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1050-1078
Number of pages29
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Culture
  • Democracy
  • Institutions
  • Russia
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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