Individual and Contextual Correlates of Trust in Media Across 44 Countries

Yariv Tsfati, Gal Ariely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Media research demonstrates that audience trust in the news media is a highly consequential factor, shaping audience selection of and response to media, and potentially impacting citizens’ perceptions of the political system at large. Still, our knowledge about the correlates of trust in media is limited. Only a few studies have utilized a correlational design to explore the associations between trust in media and other factors, and almost all of these studies originate in the U.S. context. The current investigation utilizes data from 44 diverse countries (n = 57,847), collected as part of the World Values Survey, to broaden our understanding of trust in media. The aim is two-fold—to learn about individual-level correlates across contexts and to demonstrate that macro-level factors play a part in shaping such trust. Our findings indicate that levels of political interest, interpersonal trust, and exposure to television news and newspapers are positively correlated with trust in media, while education and exposure to news on the Internet are negatively associated. On the macro level, postmaterialism emerged as a consistent predictor of trust in media. State ownership of the media industry did not have a main effect on trust in media after controlling for other factors. However, an interaction was found between state ownership and level of democracy: state ownership of television is positively associated with media trust in democratic societies and negatively associated with trust in media in nondemocratic societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-782
Number of pages23
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 8 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2012.


  • Multilevel analysis
  • media ownership
  • postmaterialism
  • trust in media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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