Joseph Daniels on Religion and Trust
Date: February 7th, 2011

Does religion and religious practice enhance trust of others?  Joseph Daniels — professor of economics at Marquette University and director of the Center for Global and Economic Studies — joins Tony to chat about the importance of social trust for society and the economy based on research he conducted with previous podcast guest Marc von der Ruhr.  We cover what trust is and two types of trust — “bonding (strong-tie) trust” and “bridging (weak-tie) trust.”   We examine various individual characteristics leading to the development of trust and explore three different theories of how trust is formed at the social level, including voluntary association theory, social network theory, and community theory.  We then explore their research findings showing that people who attend church more often are more likely to exhibit trust in others.  Interestingly, though, Prof. Daniels research indicates a denominational effect wherein people affiliated with fundamentalist or conservative denominations are less trusting than those in liberal Protestant denominations.  This effect does not wash out the strong positive effect that religious attendance plays in enhancing trust, but it does temper the effect.  We also discuss where Catholics fit into this pattern and how social trust has declined over time.  We finish the podcast by talking about how this willingness to trust (or not) factors into attitudes towards free trade and immigration.  Tony also reveals his pick for Super Bowl XLV, which will have been broadcast prior to the airing of this podcast.  Recorded: January 24, 2011.


Prof. Joe Daniels’s website at Marquette University.

Marquette University’s Center for Global and Economic Studies.

Joseph Daniels interview with Robert Putnam, author of American Grace, at Marquette University (2010).


Marc von der Ruhr on Megachurch Recruitment and Retention.

Michael McBride on Religious Free-Riding and the Mormon Church.

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