A double‐edged sword: How social diversity affects trust in representatives via perceived competence and warmth
Abstract Previous research has claimed that diversity erodes trust, even though the empirical evidence is mixed and restricted to ethnic neighborhood diversity. Against the backdrop of increasing diversity within the political sphere and concurrently declining political trust, we examined the impact of social diversity on trust in groups of political representatives. In two experiments (N1 = 109, N2 = 248) we tested how the diversity of political parties affected citizens’ trust in them. In line with predictions of the stereotype content model, diverse parties were perceived as warmer and less competent than non‐diverse parties (Experiments 1–2). Additionally, party diversity was perceived as having more benefits, but also involving more threats (Experiment 2). Consequently, diversity had both positive (via warmth and benefits) and negative (via competence and threats) indirect effects on trust. These results help to untangle previously mixed, for the most part non‐experimental, findings of the relationship between diversity and trust.