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The ‘Big Lie’ in American politics has sparked intense concern about the erosion of public confidence in the integrity of US elections—raising questions about the legitimacy of the authorities, institutions, and principles of democratic governance. Cynicism generated from misinformation about trustworthy elections has attracted a growing body of individual-level social-psychological research in America and Europe. Another common problem found around the world, however, which has received far less attention, concerns credulous citizens who express considerable faith and confidence in flawed contests. This study theorises that at macro-level, the accuracy of any public judgments about trustworthy elections is likely to be mediated by the information environment in open and closed societies, as well as by the type of regime. To understand these issues, Part I summarises the conceptual and theoretical argument about trust and trustworthiness. Part II describes the sources of evidence. To apply the theory, data on public opinion is drawn from around 85 societies around the globe included in Waves 6 and 7 of the World Values Survey (2010–2022), with measures of electoral trust and subjective perceptions of electoral integrity among ordinary citizens. Institutional electoral performance indices are drawn from the Varieties of Democracy project (V-Dem 12.0). Part III analyses how far these independent estimates match public judgments of the trustworthiness of elections in each country – and how far such relationships are conditioned by the type of information society as well as by the type of regime. Part IV highlights the key findings and considers their broader implications for understanding the macro-level conditions for trust and trustworthiness.


Norris, Pippa. "Big Little Election Lies: Cynical and Credulous Evaluations of Electoral Fraud." Parliamentary Affairs 77.1 (January 2024): 1-24.