Social capital is often represented by generalized trust – the degree to which one trusts ’most (unknown) people’. It is assumed to be enhanced by diverse group interactions. In the social capital literature, it is opposed by particularized trust, which represents our mutual confidence in individuals close to us, for example, family members and friends.
This study, based on a survey with 634 university students from Austria, questions the existing dichotomy between the two trust types. Our results advocate in favour of a third, community determined type of trust. This additional trust dimension is measured by the number of groups the individuals participate in. It changes between particularized and generalized trust, depending on measures of group context, like frequency of interaction or group size. Thus, the results support hypotheses made in the recent literature about the multidimensionality of trust and it quantifies the effect of group participation on trust.