Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law 29 (2011), pp. 95–115; doi: 10.1002/bsl.965 Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


Despite its contemporary and theoretical importance in numerous social scientific disciplines, institutional confidence research is limited by a lack of consensus regarding the distinctions and relationships among related constructs (e.g., trust, confidence, legitimacy, distrust, etc.). This study examined four confidence-related constructs that have been used in studies of trust/confidence in the courts: dispositional trust, trust in institutions, obligation to obey the law, and cynicism. First, the separability of the four constructs was examined by exploratory factor analyses. Relationships among the constructs were also assessed. Next, multiple regression analyses were used to explore each construct’s independent contribution to confidence in the courts. Finally, a second study replicated the first study and also examined the stability of the institutional confidence constructs over time. Results supported the hypothesized separability of, and correlations among, the four confidence-related constructs. The extent to which the constructs independently explained the observed variance in confidence in the courts differed as a function of the specific operationalization of confidence in the courts and the individual predictor measures. Implications for measuring institutional confidence and future research directions are discussed.