Establishing and enhancing trust and credibility
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ESTABLISHING AND ENHANCING TRUST AND CREDIBILITY. Vladimir Ninkovi ć TRANSCONFLICT. Postmodern societies. Tolerating the unexpected Dealing with uncertainties. When do we need trust?. One ’s own i nadequate knowledge and experience – recourse to the third party. Too big or complete tasks.

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Vladimir Ninković


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Postmodern societies

  • Tolerating the unexpected

  • Dealing with uncertainties

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When do we need trust?

  • One’s own inadequate knowledge and experience – recourse to the third party.

  • Too big or complete tasks

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Benefits of trust

  • Lubricating social interactions on various levels so these function smoothly

  • Reducing social uncertainty and complexity

  • Important element of social capital

  • Prerequisite for a healthy and flexible economy and participatory democracy

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  • Public institutions often in role of risk managers.

  • Trust in public institutions important factor in the perception and acceptability of the risks.

  • Trust – a key to successful risk communication

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Trustworthy communication

  • Trust :

    • Expected future actions of third parties

    • Reliability of information on which current actions are based

  • No adequate communication / Withholding information distrust

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Degree of willingness of the risk givers +

Trustworthiness of the trust recipients =

Perceived integrity and sincerity

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  • A.Giddens: ‘Within an environment fraught with danger, all mechanisms of trust need to be complemented with tangible trust in persons’.

  • Trust eases the pressure in the present / Distrust may paralyze all action

  • Distrust compels the present to engage in a quest for reassuring knowledge and care.

  • Distrust often may be rational course of action.

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  • Trust Distrust – quick, abrupt process

  • Distrust Trust – slow, gradual process

  • Easier to destroy than to create – negative events carry more weight than the positive ones (“Bad news are good news”).

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Peculiarities in the area of risk communication I

  • Building trust is always a hybrid process; there is no clear distinction between “abstract” trust in the system and “tangible” trust in persons.

  • Trust in abstract systems is not sufficiently grounded in personal or expert knowledge; rather it is based on symbolic indicators of trustworthiness.

  • Trust requires options for controls and enforcement.

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Peculiarities in the area of risk communication II

  • Whether information is perceived as trustworthy or untrustworthy depends on its source.

    • Science experts (doubts about their expertise and their integrity)

    • Industry culprits (assumption of vested interests)

    • Politicians (perceived as often incapable of action or biased).

      Confidence and trust of the stakeholders depend on the profit status; the more a particular agent stands to profit from a particular situation, the less trust will be given by the public.

  • The willingness to trust is dependent on the reporting by the media.

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Salient value similarity theory

  • Earle & Cvetkovich: “People base their trust judgments on whether they feel that the other person or organization shares the same values, or is seen as having the same understanding of a specific situation.”

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The importance of full trust

  • The public does not necessarily expect or see trust as an achievable goal in their relation with institutions

  • The public has become more competent and knowledgeable enough to have “effective” distrust.

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Trust building factors

  • Caring and empathy

  • Competence and expertise

  • Honesty and openness

  • Dedication and commitment

  • Technical competence

  • General trustworthiness dimension, encompassing care for the public interest

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  • Refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message

  • Over 50% of credibility is dependent upon whether or not a source or message are perceived as empathetic and caring

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  • Trust and credibility can be built by using support from credible third party sources.

  • A lower credibility source takes on the credibility of the highest credible source that agrees with its position on an issue.

  • When a lower credibility source attacks the credibility of a higher credibility source, the lower credibility source losses additional credibility.

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Five practical Rules for Building Trust and Credibility (Covello&Allen, 1988)

  • Accept and involve the public as a partner.

  • Appreciate the public’s specific concerns.

  • Be honest and open.

  • Work with other credible sources.

  • Meet the needs of the media.

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Establishing (Covellotheculture of trust

  • The more pronounced the uncertainty (gap of knowledge), the greater the need to establish a firm base for trust.

  • The highest priority must be given to transparency, dialogue, participation and fairness.

  • The best way to build public trust is by assuring that procedures truly involve the public in decision making.