Personality traits and the propensity to trust friends and strangers

Freitag, Markus; Bauer, Paul C. (2016). Personality traits and the propensity to trust friends and strangers. The Social Science Journal, 53(4), pp. 1-10. Elsevier 10.1016/j.soscij.2015.12.002

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Research on the foundations of social trust mainly concentrates on the evaluation of one's social environment. Empirical evidence focusing on the psychological origins of social trust is quite rare and the findings of these few studies remain inconclusive. Two innovations are proposed in order to systemize the knowledge about the foundations of social trust. First, we propose using a trust measure that is sensitive to different categories of trustees and refers to a realistic situation. Second, we argue for a broad conception of personality, rather than focusing only on selected attributes. Using data from a unique Swiss population survey, we show that the impact of personality traits on trust in strangers is stronger than on trust in friends. While conscientiousness and openness, in particular, are important traits for the development of both trust in friends and strangers, agreeableness is related to trust in strangers.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Freitag, Markus, Bauer, Paul Cornelius


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Jessica Zuber

Date Deposited:

08 Jul 2016 11:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:56

Publisher DOI:



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