International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Trust in state institutions and justification of fraud in a comparative perspective

Claudia Abreu Lopes, London School of Economics, Methodology Institute; Edurne Bartolome Peral, Universidad de Deusto, Spain

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: London School of Economics, Methodology Institute
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

The main objective of this paper is to explore the individual and structural factors that support citizens’ justification of fraudulent practices such as cheating on taxes, accepting a bribe, paying cash with no receipt to avoid VAT, and falsely claiming state benefits. At the individual level, support for fraud is expected if citizens distrust in institutions such as the parliament, government, political parties, and social security system. Individual data and countries differences on levels of acceptance of fraud are provided data from the European Values Survey (4th wave, 2008/09) and framed in the structural context of 34 European countries in a comparative and multilevel perspective.
The relationships citizens establish with state institutions such as justice, government, and parliament are based on trust directed to others and social institutions. The establishment of trust presupposes that others and institutions behave accordingly to expectations rooted on moral and ethical principles. When citizens are deceived in their expectations, trust is undermined and dishonest practices are perceived as more acceptable.
This paper goes further to explore the interplay between the acceptance of fraud and contextual variables such as the country level of corruption, and income inequality. The results indicate that 1) fraud is more acceptable when citizens trust less in state institutions 2) justification of fraud is higher in countries with greater income inequalities (controlling for GDP) and 3) corruption in the country has no effect in acceptance of fraud.