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How Do Citizens Evaluate Public Officials? The Role of Performance and Expectations on Political Trust

Seyd, Ben (2015) How Do Citizens Evaluate Public Officials? The Role of Performance and Expectations on Political Trust. Political Studies, 63 (s1). pp. 73-90. (doi:10.1111/1467-9248.12163) (KAR id:41755)

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This article examines how citizens judge the trustworthiness of public officials, focusing on one aspect of the cognitive process by trust is assessed. It considers how far trust reflects not only the perceptions of how politicians behave but also prior expectations of that behaviour. ‘Expectancy-disconfirmation’ models suggest that attitudes to public services are largely shaped by performance perceptions adjusted for expectations. Drawing on survey data from a sample of citizens in the UK, the paper finds results that are inconsistent with this model. Instead, trust is found to primarily reflect performance perceptions alone; expectations play little additional role in shaping citizen evaluations. The results suggest that policy makers are unlikely to boost levels of political trust by reducing what citizens expect of politicians. Instead, policy makers concerned to improve their public image will have to undertake the harder task of improving their performance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/1467-9248.12163
Uncontrolled keywords: Political trust; Attitudes to public officials; Political conduct; Performance; Expectations.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Ben Seyd
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2014 13:24 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 12:54 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Seyd, Ben:
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