Academic staff – University of Copenhagen

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Peter Thisted Dinesen

Peter Thisted Dinesen

Deputy head of department, professor MSO

I study social and political attitudes and behavior. Although I am a political scientist by training, my research falls in the intersection between political science, sociology and psychology. In my work I look at how various social and political attitudes are formed.

My primary topic of interest has been in generalized social trust – trust in other people we don’t know – which is often thought to be an important civic attitude underpinning a well-functioning democracy. If people trust unknown others, they are also likely to act more civically – e.g. pay taxes, recycle, or volunteer – with positive consequences for society as a whole.

I have, inter alia, examined the consequences of ethnic diversity for social trust, which embodies the larger question about whether social cohesion of Western societies is threatened by increased immigration by people with different ethnic background. I have analyzed this question in the primary school setting, as well as in municipalities and in the immediate neighborhood, where people live (the latter two together with Kim Sønderskov). The findings vary between contexts. I find no effect of ethnic diveristy on social trust in the school setting, but find negative effects of diversity in municipalities and in the immediate neighborhood.

At this point, studying how the micro-context of residential areas form social and political attitudes is the main research research project that I am working on (together with Kim Sønderskov and Bolette Danckert). The project is based on detailed register data from Denmark, which offer unique opportunities for examining the role of the micro-context in shaping attitudes.

Primary fields of research

Political behavior and attitude formation including:

  • Social trust
  • Immigration attitudes
  • Attitudes towards redistribution
  • Political participation
  • Macroeconomic perceptions
  • Contextual effects
  • Personality as a determinant of political behavior and attitudes


I primarily teach Political Behavior and Methods at both the B.Sc. and the M.Sc. level. I also supervise Ph.D. students and M.Sc. theses.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: Evidence from the Micro-Context

    Dinesen, P. T. & Sønderskov, K. M. 2015 In : American Sociological Review. 80, 3, p. 550-573

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  2. Published

    Reconsidering the Neighborhood Effect: Does Exposure to Residential Unemployment Influence Voters' Perceptions of the National Economy?

    Bisgaard, M., Dinesen, P. T. & Sønderskov, K. M. 2016 In : The Journal of Politics. 78, 3, p. 719-732

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  3. Published

    Reacting to Neighborhood Cues? Political Sophistication Moderates the Effect of Exposure to Immigrants

    Danckert, B., Dinesen, P. T. & Sønderskov, K. M. 2017 In : Public Opinion Quarterly. 81, 1, p. 37-56

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  4. Published

    Increased incidence rates of trauma and stressor related disorders in Denmark following the 9/11 attacks

    Hansen, B. T., Østergaard, S. D., Sønderskov, K. M. & Dinesen, P. T. 2016 In : American Journal of Epidemiology. 184, 7, p. 494-500

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  5. Published

    Daylight Savings Time Transitions and the Incidence Rate of Unipolar Depressive Episodes

    Hansen, B. T., Sønderskov, K. M., Hageman, I., Dinesen, P. T. & Østergaard, S. D. 2017 In : Epidemiology. 28, 3, p. 346-353

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  6. Published

    Estimating the Impact of Education on Political Participation: Evidence from Monozygotic Twins in the United States, Denmark and Sweden

    Dinesen, P. T., Dawes, C., Johanneson, M., Klemmensen, R., Magnusson, P., Nørgaard, A. S., Petersen, I. & Oskarsson, S. 2016 In : Political Behavior. 38, 3, p. 579-601

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  7. Published

    Trusting the state, trusting each other?: The effect of institutional trust on social trust

    Sønderskov, K. M. & Dinesen, P. T. 2016 In : Political Behavior. 38, 1, p. 179-202

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  8. Published

    Education and Social Trust: Testing a Causal Hypothesis Using the Discordant Twin Design

    Oskarsson, S., Dinesen, P. T., Dawes, C., Johanneson, M. & Magnusson, P. 2017 In : Political Psychology. 38, 3, p. 515-531 8

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  9. Published

    Attitudes towards Immigration: The Role of Personal Predispositions

    Dinesen, P. T., Klemmensen, R. & Nørgaard, A. S. Feb 2016 In : Political Psychology. 37, 1, p. 55-72 4

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  10. Published

    The Effect of Terror on Institutional Trust: New Evidence From the 3/11 Madrid Terrorist Attack

    Dinesen, P. T. & Jæger, M. M. 15 Dec 2013 In : Political Psychology. 34, 6, p. 917-926 10 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  11. Published

    Does Generalized (Dis)trust Travel? Examining the Impact of Cultural Heritage and Destination Country Environment on Trust of Immigrants

    Dinesen, P. T. 2012 In : Political Psychology. 33, 4, p. 495-511 17 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  12. Published

    Danish Exceptionalism: Explaining the Unique Increase in Social Trust over the Past 30 Years

    Sønderskov, K. M. & Dinesen, P. T. 2014 In : European Sociological Review. 30, 6, p. 782-795

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  13. Where you come from or where you live? Examining the cultural and institutional explanation of generalized trust using migration as a natural experiment

    Dinesen, P. T. 2013 In : European Sociological Review. 29, 1, p. 114-128 15 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  14. Published

    The Civic Personality: Personality and Democratic Citizenship

    Dinesen, P. T., Nørgaard, A. S. & Klemmensen, R. 2014 In : Political Studies. 62, s1, p. 134–152

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  15. Published

    Trust in a Time of Increasing Diversity: On the Relationship between Ethnic Heterogeneity and Social Trust in Denmark from 1979 until Today

    Dinesen, P. T. & Sønderskov, K. M. 2012 In : Scandinavian Political Studies. 35, 4, p. 273-294 22 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  16. When in Rome, Do as The Romans Do: The Acculturation of Generalized Trust Among Immigrants in Western Europe

    Dinesen, P. T. & Hooghe, M. 2010 In : International Migration Review. 44, 3, p. 697-727 31 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

ID: 36049463