Political Trust and Perceptions of the Quality of Institutional Arrangements – how do they influence the public's acceptance of environmental rules
Journal article, 2015

This paper investigates the relationship between political trust and the acceptability of government regulations in the environmental field. We hypothesise that trust in particular authorities and perceptions of the quality of institutional arrangements are important predictors of rule acceptance, which we assume is important for the long-term legitimacy of the regulatory system. We explore the validity of this hypothesis using the case of homeowners with on-site sewage systems (OSSs), i.e. small-scale systems treating sewage from one or a few households that contribute to eutrophication and data was gathered through a questionnaire sent to randomly selected homeowners with OSS in Sweden. The results support propositions that political trust indeed is an important factor explaining homeowners' acceptability of governmental regulations. Political trust is in turn influenced by homeowners' perceptions of authorities being environmentally effective and impartial when enforcing rules, as well as by positive experiences of authority contacts. Policy makers and officials should thus use trust-building approaches and factors underpinning trust such as those investigated in this study to increase rule acceptance and, in the longer-run, pro-environmental behaviour.


acceptability of government regulations


on-site sewage systems

political trust

collective action problems



Mathias Zannakis

University of Gothenburg

Are Wallin

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Lars-Olof Johansson

University of Gothenburg

Environmental Policy and Governance

1756-932X (ISSN)

Vol. 25 6 424-438

Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Applied Psychology

Public Administration Studies

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)



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