Trusting what you know: Information, knowledge, and confidence in social security

Fay Lomax Cook, Lawrence R. Jacobs, Dukhong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Can public trust in government be increased by expanding knowledge of the activities government already performs? This study takes advantage of a naturally occurring experiment-the distribution of personal statements by the Social Security Administration- to examine the impact of increased domain-specific information on the public's knowledge and confidence. Analysis of a large Gallup survey of attitudes toward Social Security finds that recipients of personal Social Security Statements gained more knowledge of, and confidence in, Social Security than nonrecipients after controlling for individual differences. These results suggest that citizens' evaluations of government institutions echo, in part, the quality and quantity of information distributed to them. The implication for future research on political trust and confidence is to confirm the importance of expanding analysis from global to specific objects of evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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