Examining the multilevel associations between psychological wellbeing and social trust: A primary analysis of survey data

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Abstract

The present study examines the associations between multiple measures of social trust and two outcomes of psychological wellbeing (happiness and depression) among South Korean adults (n = 1549) living in residential communities, that is, administrative districts (n = 77) in and around the capital city of Seoul. Based on multilevel modeling, we find that familial trust positively predicts happiness at both individual and contextual levels; and it negatively predicts depression at the individual level only. In comparison, peer trust is negatively related only to depression at the individual level, albeit marginally. Lastly, general trust significantly predicts both outcomes at the community, but not individual, level. These mixed findings suggest that the trust-wellbeing relationship depends critically on issues of definition (how the variables are conceptualized) and measurement (how they are operationalized according to different units of analysis). Our study offers implications for the literature on social determinants of mental health broadly and, more specifically, on the role of social trust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2383-2402
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Volume49
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Korea
  • contextual analysis
  • depression
  • happiness
  • psychological wellbeing
  • social trust

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