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Political Trust, Attitudes, and Behaviour in Population and Politician Samples From Latvia

Martins Priedols, Girts Dimdins, Viktorija Gaina, Veronika Leja, Ivars Austers
University of Latvia

Abstract. This study examines differences between the general population and politicians in overall political trust, previous and planned behaviour in line with COVID-19 restrictions, the importance of considering budget limitations, the industry needs, and the desirability of the solution when spending state budget funds. We compared answers from a population-representative sample (N = 1000) with a sample of active political actors (N = 100) in Latvia. The results showed that, in the case of political trust, political actors have significantly higher reported trust in the public administration and government during the COVID-19 pandemic, higher levels of overall trust in people, and substantially lower reported political cynicism – distrust in political actors’ intentions for participating in politics. There were no differences between both samples when asked about the past behaviour regarding COVID-19 restrictions; however, political actors reported significantly higher commitment to comply with the restrictions in the future. There were no differences between the groups when asked to rank factors that need to be considered when the state’s budget is used to solve acute problems – participants from both general population and political actor samples placed budget limitations at the top, followed by the desirability of the solution to the problem, with industry needs put at the bottom of the three-item list. The expected impact of construal level based on the distance to political decision-making thus was not observed in the results. These findings provide additional insight into differences between the general population and politicians in the context of political trust and cynicism, past and future behaviour, and consideration of factors when public funds are needed to solve an acute issue.

Keywords: compliance with restrictions, construal level, political cynicism, political trust

Author Note
This research is funded by the Latvian Council of Science, project Developing and testing a psychological model of political trust, project No. lzp-2018/1-0402.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2022. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2022. 1135 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-911-1