Trust in government: What’s news media got to do with it?

Frank Marcinkowski, Christopher Starke


In modern democracies, trust in government is a key indicator of political legitimacy and stability. Drawing from theories of media effects, we investigated whether using traditional media has a negative (media malaise hypothesis) or a positive (virtuous circle hypothesis) impact on trust in the national government. We used a serial mediation model involving evaluations of politicians and evaluations of the political process as mediators of how political communications influence trust in government. To test the model empirically, we conducted an online survey among 1 115 respondents in Germany. Results suggest that the use of traditional media to access political information has a direct positive impact on trust in government mediated by people’s evaluations of politicians and of the political process. We also found a positive serial mediation effect of using traditional media on trust in government mediated first by evaluations of politicians and second by evaluations of the political process.


Trust in government; media effects; politicians; political Processes; quantitative survey; mediation effects

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Copyright (c) 2018 Frank Marcinkowski, Christopher Starke

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896