Vicious Circle of Public Conflicts, Conflict Behaviors, and Public Trust in South Korea
Conflict and trust interact in a complex self-reinforcing vicious circle. With frequent, serious public conflicts, as well as stagnantly low level of trust in government, Korea may suffer from a vicious circle. This paper tests empirically whether Korea is in a vicious circle of public conflicts and public trust based on data from a questionnaire survey for 3,000 Korean citizens conducted during January and February 2016. The results show that individual experience of public conflicts significantly reduced the level of trust in government, and rights- and/or power-based conflict behaviors of the individuals who experienced conflict lowered their level of trust in government more. As another link in a vicious circle, low level of public trust is believed to propel citizens to adopt more rights- and power-based approaches to conflict, which, in turn, may reduce the level of public trust in Korea. These results imply that the Korean government can build public trust through more effective conflict management.
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