Malaise Effect or Virtuous Effect? The Dynamics of Internet Use and Political Trust in China

Xiaoxiao Cheng


The rise of the Internet has led to debates regarding the direction of its effect in terms of eroding or enhancing political trust. The current study considers the dispute and focuses on the dynamic relationship between Internet use and political trust in China. The multilevel analysis with pooled data shows that the impacts of Internet use on political trust vary across generations and that the changing social-historical context and Internet context are responsible for the dynamic Internet–trust relationship. This article also bridges the gap in existing theory by showing that both the malaise effect of Internet use and virtuous effect of Internet context act together to impact political trust.


Internet use, political trust, dynamic relationship, social-historical and Internet context, media effects

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