Public trust in leadership plays an important role in shaping compliance with health guidelines, influencing behaviors such as mask-wearing and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. New research finds that public trust in national leaders is shaped by how leaders make tough decisions about moral dilemmas. The study found that trust in national leaders is greater when leaders seek to save the most lives around the world, rather than favoring their own citizens.
MSU Communication Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Monique Turner and a global research team conducted online experiments involving nearly 24,000 people in 22 countries to understand how leaders’ decisions in response to challenging moral dilemmas affect public trust. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.
The research was led by Yale professors Molly Crockett and Clara Colombatto, and Jim Everett from the University of Kent. Crockett, Colombatto, and Everett assembled a multidisciplinary team of 37 international researchers, including Dr. Turner, to study people’s trust in leaders around the globe at the height of the pandemic.
“This was a unique opportunity to work with dozens of scholars from across the globe to design a simple, but elegant, study,” said Dr. Turner. “I loved learning diverse perspectives, methods, and ideas from this global team. We hope our findings will help to inform effective public health communication during these challenging times.”
By: Joe Strother