Creating conditions for critical trust– How an uncertainty-based risk perspective relates to dimensions and types of trust.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFjæran, L., Aven, T. (2020) Creating conditions for critical trust– How an uncertainty-based risk perspective relates to dimensions and types of trust. Safety Science, 133 (January 2021), 1-12. 10.1016/j.ssci.2020.105008
Although some disagreement about the strength of the relationship, it is generally agreed within risk research, that trust plays a central role in shaping risk perception and risk responses. Over recent decades, risk managing institutions have experienced what by many has been described as a decline in public trust. Strategies like stakeholder involvement and communication of scientific uncertainties are increasingly implemented to rebuild levels of trust but often prove less effective. Also, trust-related research mainly revolves around the relation between regulators and authorities, on one hand, and the public, on the other, with less attention given to the role of the scientific risk assessor. In this paper, we argue that assessors can act to improve conditions of trust by adopting an understanding of risk, stressing uncertainty and knowledge aspects when conceptualizing and characterizing risk. While ‘full’ trust commonly is seen as an ideal situation and distrust as a state of affairs to be prevented, this approach involves recognizing distrust as a resource. Based on an example regarding the authorization and regulation of a feed additive and the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, we show how such a perspective affects trust, both as a filter for processing, interpreting and responding to risk-related information and as an impact following such processes. Drawing on a typology of trust, we also illustrate how this relates to different dimensions and forms of trust.