Race, ethnicity, and trust: Americans (GSS respondents) were asked if people can be trusted. Here are the percent who answered yes by ethnic/racial group:
Percent trusting (N = 27,313)
French Canadian 40.9
All Americans 39.6
Asian Indian 32.8
West Indian 26.1
Puerto Rican 16.2
The pattern is very clear for Americans of differing ancestries: those of northwestern European descent are the most trusting; Asians and central and eastern Europeans are in the middle; southern Europeans, Asian Indians, and Arabs are low; Amerindians, Mexicans, Filipinos, blacks, and Puerto Ricans are the least trusting.
Differences are large. For example, Americans of Norwegian descent are more than three times as trusting as black Americans.
In a recent analysis, I showed that trust in the political process is associated with greater interest in politics, and in the comments TGGP linked to a post by n/a which reveals the same kind of European and American pattern in civic engagement that we see with the trust numbers above.
In the Big Five factors of personality, trust is a subcomponent of the broader personality trait Agreeableness. In a study that removed the heritable component of Agreeableness from Trust, a substantial unique heritability remained: .31, and .50 after reliability was corrected. (Jang et al. 1998. Heritability in facet-level traits in a cross-cultural twin study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1556-1565.)
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