Social Trust and Risk Perception

Lu, Xi, et al. “Social Trust and Risk Perception of Genetically Modified Food in Urban Areas of China: The Role of Salient Value Similarity.” Journal of Risk Research 18. 2 (2015): 199-214. Galileo at Georgia State University. Web. 28 June 2017.

The publication listed comes from a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Its purpose is to “explore the role of shared value in the process of trust judgment and risk perception of genetically modified (GM) foods” (199).

Thesis: Due to lack of information, it is more difficult for the public to assess the risk of GM foods technologically. Thus, people rely more on social trust. It is claimed that in order to compensate for their lack of information, people seek the opinion from sources that they socially trust, whether that be an institute or a friend. This is because “trust reduces the complexity of judgment and decision-making” (200). After conceptualizing the term “trust”, many scientific studies were conducted that further proved the importance of shared values. The results of a study indicated that “social trust was a mediator between shared value and risk perception” (199).

The appeals used in this work mostly consist of references to previous studies and discussions that strengthen the evidence produced from this particular study. Most of the article consists of ethos by referring to other published scientists that have also had their ideas accepted in the scientific community such as Cvetkovich and Siegrist. The scientific studies themselves establish a good grip from a logos standpoint with credible evidence to support their hypothesis.

The following chart was used to portray the relationship between shared values and risk perception as well as the breakdown of the two dimensions of trust.

The tone of the argument overall is very formal, however some sections show concern regarding how to build better trust between scientific institutes and the public like such:

If the public is concerned about the safety of GM foods, then the officials should show that the government cares about the health of the people who consume these, rather than convince them that GM foods can improve productivity and reduce farming costs (209).

This argument is crucial because it shows that many members of the public do not understand why they think GM foods are dangerous. Due to their reliance on social trust, people are misinformed about the actual risks and safety of genetically modified foods.

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