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When Does Diversity Erode Trust? Neighborhood Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and the Mediating Effect of Social Interactions

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Title: When Does Diversity Erode Trust? Neighborhood Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and the Mediating Effect of Social Interactions


1
When Does Diversity Erode Trust? Neighborhood
Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and the Mediating
Effect of Social Interactions
  • Written by Dietlind Stolle, Stuart Soroka and
    Richard Johnston
  • Political Studies 2008 Volume 56, 57-75

2
The Background
  • The Diversity Paradox
  • Recent studies suggest that socio-economic
    diversity in neighborhoods, regions, states,
    countries, etc. can lead to greater problems with
    cooperation, trust and support, all of which are
    necessary for social welfare
  • Ethnic and racial neighborhood diversity across
    the United States leads to negative short-term
    effects on trust in other people, civic attitudes
    and behavior (Harvard professor Robert Putnam,
    2007)
  • High levels of neighborhood diversity low
    levels of trust
  • Discussion question How do these findings relate
    to the need to belong theory discussed in
    class?
  • Discussion question Do you agree with these
    conclusions? Are there other possible
    explanations?

3
The Background (continued)
  • In-group bias and out-group hostility comes with
    an absence of direct contact or sustained
    knowledge about people who are different from us
    and reinforces prejudices
  • Bridging vs. bonding
  • Bonding bringing together individuals who are
    alike (e.g., church)
  • Bridging bringing together people of diverse
    backgrounds (e.g., racial, ethnic, religious)
  • BUT
  • Recent literature may suggest that social
    interactions among individuals from dissimilar
    groups may help ease or mediate in-group biases
    and develop inclusion of out-group members
    (Allport, 1954 Gaertner et al., 1996 Pettigrew
    and Tropp, 2000)
  • Two conclusions
  • 1. Aggregate-level proximity of diverse others
    negatively affects trust
  • 2. Out-group interaction among neighbors
    positively affects attitudes
  • Researchers question How can these
    contradictory perspectives be reconciled by
    studying interpersonal interaction?

4
The Research
  • Canada-US Comparison
  • Canada salient ethnic division is between
    visible majority (white) and visible minority
    (race is not referred to in political discourse)
  • United States salient ethnic division is between
    Blacks, Hispanics and whites (based on American
    political history)
  • Hypothesis Diversity has a similar (negative)
    effect on trust in both countries absent social
    interaction among out-groups
  • Dependent variable interpersonal trust
  • Question If you lost a wallet or purse with two
    hundred dollars, how likely is it to be returned
    with the money in it if it was found by (1)
    strangers (2) neighbors and (3) police?

5
The Results
  • Used 2002-2003 Equality Security Community Survey
    (ESCS) for Canada and 2005 Citizenship,
    Involvement, Democracy (CID) survey for United
    States
  • Limitations May not reflect the racial and
    socio-economic realities that individuals
    encounter on a daily basis difference in
    response measurements between surveys
  • Results
  • Negative correlation between visible minority
    status and level of trust for both countries
    (stronger in US)
  • Correlation is stronger for majority respondents
    than the minority

6
The Research (continued)
  • The Mediating Effect of Social Interactions
  • Hypothesis Diverse personal ties with neighbors
    could compensate for the negative effects of
    proximity, particularly when the personal ties
    call for social interaction
  • Dependent variable interpersonal trust
  • Interested in two aspects of social interactions
    and bridging ties.
  • Question 1 Of the people you interact with in
    your neighborhood, how many of them are of a
    different race from yours?
  • Used as an alternative measure to neighborhood
    diversity
  • Question 2 Of the neighbors you know, how often
    do you talk to them about every day, several
    times a week, several times a month, once a
    month, several times a year, once a year or less
    or never?
  • Used to capture the degree of interaction with
    neighbors

7
The Results (continued)
  • Used 2005 United States CID survey only
  • Measured only the majority response because they
    are most affected by diversity
  • Results
  • Diversity measured by individualized neighborhood
    networks is a more powerful predictor of trust
    than the measure of proximity.
  • Respondents in diverse neighborhoods who talk to
    each other on a regular basis are more trusting
    than those who do not talk to each other

8
The Conclusions
  • Researchers confirm recent findings on the
    negative effect of neighborhood diversity on
    white majorities and show that it is not just in
    the United States
  • Personal experiences with diverse neighbors is
    important for developing trust
  • Most important Everyone is different.
  • Individuals who regularly talk with their
    neighbors are less influenced by the racial and
    ethnic character of their surroundings than
    people who lack such social interaction.

9
The Alternative Explanations
  • Reverse causation
  • How can we be sure that its the social
    interaction and talking that matters?
  • Could trusting respondents be more talkative in
    general while distrusting respondents remain
    silent?
  • Discussion question Do you think that reverse
    causation is more or less likely?
  • Hull (2003)
  • Certain aspects of neighborhood context
    indirectly influence adolescent psychological
    distress through their impact on perceived
    emotional support and aspirations/expectations
    for the future, both of which are associated with
    lower levels of psychological distress.
  • Neighborhood physical disorder lower levels of
    perceived emotional support
  • Higher concentration of Hispanics in the
    neighborhood is associated with higher perceived
    emotional support for other Hispanics.

10
The Questions
  • Do you think that social contact with diverse
    groups promotes positive relationships with
    out-group members, or does it simply neutralize
    out-group biases?
  • Is it possible for dissimilar groups to truly
    trust one another?
  • How are these issues carried out currently in the
    news and media? In your life?

11
The Sources
  • Stolle, Dietlind Soroka, Stuart and Johnston,
    Richard. When Does Diversity Erode Trust?
    Neighborhood Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and
    the Mediating Effect of Social Interactions.
    Political Studies 2008 Vol. 56, 57-75.
  • Hull, Pamela. "Race/Ethnicity and the Impact of
    Neighborhood Context on Adolescent Psychological
    Distress" Paper presented at the annual meeting
    of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta
    Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, GA, Aug 16, 2003.
    2009-01-23 lthttp//www.allacademic.com/meta/p10654
    8_index.htmlgt
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