Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Trust Research 3:1 (2013), pp. 11–31


Copyright © 2013 Peter Ping Li. Published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Although researchers have consistently demonstrated the importance of confidence in public institutions like the courts, relatively little attention has been paid to understanding what confidence itself really is. This article presents data from two samples of community members, thereby building on and extending a preliminary investigation that sought to understand constructs related to confidence in state courts with student samples. Structural equation modeling results provide support for the dimensionality of the measures and indicate that dispositional trust has little to no independent effect on confidence. However, tendency to trust in governmental institutions, cynicism toward the law, and felt obligation to obey the law are important predictive constructs. The current results are important both for researchers seeking to understand confidence in the courts and the judges and administrators who would seek to increase it.