Institut for Statskundskab

Explaining Large-N Cooperation: Generalized Social Trust and the Social Exchange Heuristic

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  • Institut for Statskundskab
This article presents a new argument that links generalized social trust and collective action in situations with a large number of actors, who do not have specific information on each other. Generalized social trust enhances large-N cooperation through the social exchange heuristic, which stimulate conditional cooperation in social dilemmas. Using data from a survey in four countries and recycling behavior as an indicator of collective action, this explanation is tested with individual level data. While the relationship between generalized social trust and large-N collective action is often hypothesized, there is scant micro level evidence as it has mainly been tested at the macro level. The results show that people holding generalized social trust cooperate more readily in large-N dilemmas, and that they most likely do so because of the social exchange heuristic.
TidsskriftRationality and Society
Sider (fra-til)51-74
Antal sider24
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2011


  • Social tillid, Kollektive handlingsproblemer

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