A Social Psychological Perspective on Trust in Political Actors


A Social Psychological Perspective on Trust in Political Actors


This project splits into two parts: (i) examining the concept of trust and (ii) investigating determinants of political trust. Trust and its measurement vastly vary between and even within disciplines. Based on a narrative review, systematically coding 100 journal articles regarding their trust measures, we currently develop a conceptual framework of trust. We aim to reconcile different trust approaches, tackle (superficially) opposing measures, and raise new research questions.

To investigate determinants of trust in politicians, we conducted several experimental studies, examining how citizens perceive politicians defending themselves against criticism. We compared the effects of accepting criticism with the effects of two common defenses, namely, denials and counterattacks. We further explored possible moderators and mediators.


Ph.D. scholarship, granted by Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Project in cooperation with Melanie Steffens (Landau)


Nicole Methner, Prof. Dr. Susanne Bruckmüller


Methner, N., Bruckmüller, S., & Steffens, M.C. (2020). Can accepting criticism be an effective impression management strategy for public figures? A comparison with denials and a counterattack. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 42(4), 254-275. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973533.2020.1754824

Bertolotti, M., Catellani, P., Douglas, K. M., & Sutton, R. M. (2013). The “Big Two” in political communication: The effects of attacking and defending politicians’ leadership or morality. Social Psychology, 44(2), 117–128. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000141

Bruckmüller, S., & Methner, N. (2018). The “Big Two” in citizens’ perceptions of politicians. In A. E. Abele & B. Wojciszke (Eds.), Agency and communion in social psychology (pp. 154–166). London: Routledge.

McGraw, K. M. (2003). Political impressions: Formation and management. In D. O. Sears, L. Huddy, & R. Jervis (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political psychology. (pp. 394–432). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.