Brewer and his colleagues identify generalized trust in other nations, or international trust, as a key component of public opinion about world affairs (Brewer 2004; Brewer et al. 2004; Brewer, Aday, and Gross 2005). Tey defne this form of trust as follows:

International trust [is] a generalized belief about whether most foreign countries behave in accordance with normative expectations regarding the conduct of nations. Citizens with high levels of international trust see the realm of world affairs as a friendly environment where trust and cooperation among nations are the norms; in contrast, citizens with low levels of international trust see the same realm as a hostile environment where all nations strive against one another for advantage and readily defect from cooperative efforts. Put another way, international trust is a standing decision to give other nations the beneft of the doubt, an assumption that most countries are of good will and benign intentions. (Brewer et al. 2004, 96)

Brewer and his colleagues conceptualize this “standing decision” as a cognitive heuristic, or information shortcut, comparing it to both social trust (or interpersonal trust) and political trust (or trust in government). Te former, a generalized belief that one can trust strangers (Uslaner 2002), provides individuals with a “standing decision to give most people—even those whom one does not know from direct experience—the beneft of the doubt” (Rahn and Transue 1998, 545). Te latter, a generalized orientation toward government based on normative expectations of its operation, likewise offers individuals “a simple decision rule” for deciding how much beneft of the doubt to give government (Hetherington and Globetti 2002, 254).

I couldn't find the phrase "information shortcut" in the main dictionaries online. What is its meaning?

1 Answer 1


In this context it indicates a "rule of thumb" which is used as an alternative to undertaking a longer analysis of the available information. A shortcut is an alternative to a longer standard route.

In this instance, it fits - as claimed - with the definition of heuristic as an alternative and possibly sub-optimal but useful and often quicker knowledge discovery technique.

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