Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic: What are the Consequences of and for Trust? An Early Review of the Literature


Trust between governors and the governed is seen as essential to facilitating good governance. This claim has become a prominent contention during the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis also presents a unique test of key hypotheses in the trust literature. Moreover, understanding the dynamics of trust, how it facilitates and hinders policy responses, and also the likely effects of these responses on trust are going to be fundamental questions in policy and trust research in the future. In this article, we review the early literature on the coronavirus pandemic and political and social trust, summarise their findings and highlight key challenges for future research. We show how the studies shed light on trust’s association with implementation of government measures, public compliance with them, mortality rates and the effect of government action on levels of trust. We also urge caution given the varying ways of measuring trust and operationalising the impact of the pandemic, the existence of common issues with quantitative studies and the relatively limited geographical scope of studies to date. We argue that it is going to be important to have a holistic understanding of these dynamics, using mixed-methods research as well as the quantitative studies we review here.

Political Studies Review