Trust is a key element in the initiation of cooperation and the formation of attitudes, and it therefore plays an important role in the acceptance of new technologies. Most people cannot evaluate the benefits and risks associated with technological developments because they lack the basic knowledge required for such evaluations. As a result, they have to rely on the assessments of experts. In controversial fields like gene technology or nanotechnology, there are experts with conflicting views. By definition, laypeople are largely unable to evaluate the technical arguments voiced by these experts. Laypeople must rely instead on cues like trust in selecting which experts to believe. As suggested by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, trust is a method for reducing the complexity that confronts us in ...

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