How Perceptions of Inequality Between Countries Diminish Trust in the European Union: Experimental and Observational Evidence

Marc Guinjoan, Guillem Rico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2018 International Society of Political Psychology In the context of increasingly salient economic disparities between member states, this article tests the novel theoretical claim that perceptions of inequality between European Union (EU) member states diminish citizens’ trust in European institutions. Drawing on system justification theory, we argue that the negative effect of perceived intercountry inequality will be reduced as individuals become more willing to accept social inequality and to reject redistribution. We test these propositions using a survey experiment conducted in Spain (Study 1) and a representative survey in eight EU countries (Study 2). Results from Study 1 show that when citizens are led to believe that overall levels of inequality within the EU are high, they tend to express lower levels of trust in European institutions than when displayed low levels of inequality. This finding is replicated in Study 2 using observational data on individual perceptions of inequality between countries. Results confirm the role of system-justifying beliefs as a psychological antecedent of responses to inequality between countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1303
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume39
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • European Union
  • inequality
  • political trust
  • system justification

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