Social trust is defined as the belief that others in society can generally be trusted(Sztompka, 1999). The cross-country differences in social trust have been empirically demonstrated by a series of global surveys, and South Korea is ranked as one of the lowest groups. This study investigated whether/how this factor of social trust influences public acceptance of nuclear energy in South Korea. This study also proposed and tested a causal model explaining public acceptance of nuclear energy. Specifically, it was proposed that publics’ trust in diverse nuclear-related parties, and risk and benefit perceptions of nuclear energy directly influence the level of acceptance of nuclear energy. The postulated model was tested using structural equation modeling (SEM) procedures and data from the survey of 448 Seoul citizens between 20 and 59 years old. Results indicated that the proposed model fits the data well. It was found that social trust was not directly associated with acceptance of nuclear energy. Rather, it indirectly influenced public’s trust levels in different nuclear-related parties, which affect risk and benefit perceptions of nuclear energy, which in turn affect acceptance of nuclear energy. The practical implications of the results are discussed.
II. Literature Review