TrustTalk - It's all about Trust

The Impact of Perceived Justice on Societal Trust

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Episode notes

Kees van den Bos, author of the book "The Fair Process Effect," explains his extensive research on societal conflicts and the pivotal role of trust. Through his book he underscores the critical importance of fair treatment by authorities in nurturing trust and cooperation within society. He introduces the "Perceived Procedural Justice Scale," designed to quantitatively assess fairness, highlighting how fairness is integral to fostering a sense of belonging and respectful treatment among community members.

Van den Bos's research goes further to explore the detrimental effects that perceived unfairness can have, such as fostering distrust and societal polarization. He provides a comprehensive perspective on these issues, emphasizing the need for early intervention in societal conflicts. By advising authorities and citizens to remain vigilant to societal dynamics, recognize and validate the concerns of various community members, and ensure these concerns are met with understanding and appreciation, he offers a pathway towards mitigating these negative impacts.

Moreover, Van den Bos stresses the importance of adopting normative standpoints that reinforce democratic values, including peaceful and respectful treatment of one another and the maintenance of the rule of law. He acknowledges the imperfections in societal institutions, such as the legal system, but advocates for continuous efforts to enhance their functioning. This balanced approach is crucial for maintaining the fabric of a democratic society, even if it means accepting some losses as the cost of upholding fundamental values. Through this lens, Van den Bos provides a logical and informative framework for addressing and preventing the issues of distrust, polarization, and conspiracy thinking that can arise from perceived unfairness.