ECPR Joint Sessions edition:38 location:Münster date:22-27 March 2010
In the literature, two competing claims can be found on the relationship between political trust and political participation. While some authors argue that trust is a prerequisite for any form of participation to occur, others claim that distrust can be a motivating factor for participation in non-institutionalised forms of participation. The social movement literature suggests that political trust will only have these behavioural consequences if it is associated with sufficiently high levels of political efficacy. In this article, we rely on the results of the 2006 European Social Survey for an in-depth analysis of the relationship between political trust and participation in 25 countries. The multi-level regression shows that while political trust is positively associated with institutionalised participation, it is negatively associated with non-institutionalised participation. Moreover, the effect of political trust on institutionalised participation is dependent on self-confidence about one’s capability to understand politics.