The Determinants of Trust and Credibility in Environmental Risk Communication, An Empirical Study

This study examines a key component of environmental risk communication: trust and credibility. The study was conducted in two parts. In the first part, six hypotheses regarding the perceptions and determinants of trust and credibility were tested against survey data. The hypotheses were supported by the data. The most important hypothesis was that perceptions of trust and credibility are dependent on three factors: perceptions of knowledge and expertise; perceptions of openness and honesty; and perceptions of concern and care. In the second part, models were constructed with perceptions of trust and credibility as the dependent variable. The goal was to examine the data for findings with direct policy implications. One such finding was that defying a negative stereotype is key to improving perceptions of trust and credibility.

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Written by Richard G. Peters, DrPH, Vincent T. Covello, PhD, David B. McCallum, PhD as published in Risk Analysis. 1997; 17(1):43-54.