Political Behavior

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 385–404 | Cite as

Trust in elites and protest orientation: An integrative approach

  • Douglas C. Nilson
  • Linda Burzotta Nilson


The consensus based hypothesis that trust in political authorities is a major determinant of system stability has received less empirical support in the protest literature than its theoretical appeal once promised. We propose a major revision of the leadership-trust approach—one which integrates the conflict and consensus approaches by considering both public trust in established elites and public trust in challenging elites. Recognizing the importance of opposition leadership, we reason that thedifference between these two types of trust, which we conceptualize astrust differential, should explain protest orientation better than other trust-variable alternatives. The new trust differential variable suggests a distinctive typology of trust orientations which predict the degree of protest endorsement somewhat differently than the traditional authority-trust model. Using survey data collected in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1973, we test the integrative differential approach against and controlling for its classic competitors and find it to be a more powerful, independent predictor of protest orientation.


Independent Predictor Survey Data Integrative Approach Major Determinant Empirical Support 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas C. Nilson
    • 1
  • Linda Burzotta Nilson
    • 2
  1. 1.University of RedlandsUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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