Author(s): Gao Yang*
Because environmental problems are characterized by uncertainty and free-riding fears, trust that others will reciprocate one's own efforts to alleviate them is likely an important predictor of willingness to support environmental protections. Drawing on cross-disciplinary theory and research, I argue that whether individual’s social trust translates into willingness to sacrifice for environmental protections depends both on their own social trust and a culture of trust. I test this proposition using cross-national data from the International Social Survey Programme's Environment III survey. In societies characterized by a culture of high trust, those individuals reporting high social trust are considerably more willing to support environmental protections in these ways. However, in those characterized by a culture of low social trust environments, the relationship between high trust and willingness is dampened. The findings highlight that while there is a positive relationship between social trust and willingness, this relationship likely depends on cultural trust.