Human overuse of antibiotics is the main driver of antibiotic resistance. Thus, more knowledge about factors that promote sustainable antibiotic use is urgently needed. Based upon findings from the management of other sustainability and collective action dilemmas, we hypothesize that interpersonal trust is crucial for people’s propensity to cooperate for the common objective. The aim of this article is to further our understanding of people’s antibiotic consumption by investigating if individuals’ willingness to voluntarily abstain from antibiotic use is linked to interpersonal trust. To fulfill the aim, we implement two empirical investigations. In the first part, we use cross-section survey data to investigate the link between interpersonal trust and willingness to abstain from using antibiotics. The second part is based on a survey experiment in which we study the indirect effect of trust on willingness to abstain from using antibiotics by experimentally manipulating the proclaimed trustworthiness of other people to abstain from antibiotics. We find that interpersonal trust is linked to abstemiousness, also when controlling for potential confounders. The survey experiment demonstrates that trustworthiness stimulates individuals to abstain from using antibiotics. In conclusion, trust is an important asset for preserving effective antibiotics for future generations, as well as for reaching many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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