Behavioural Sciences

Don't trust anyone? You're not alone

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Gleneagles Hotel for the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland July 7, 2005. Aid, debt relief and climate change will top the agenda when leaders of the G8 - the Group of Seven industrialised nations plus Russia - meet for three days in Gleneagles. UNICS REUTERS/Jim Young  CRB - RTRGQCN

This study shows that mistrust is common across the world. Image: REUTERS/Jim Young

Jason Karaian
Senior Europe Correspondent, Quartz
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Behavioural Sciences

For nearly 20 years, communications group Edelman has been gauging the public’s trust in key institutions like business, government, and the media. You don’t need a survey of more than 33,000 people in 28 countries to know that there is an anti-establishment mood sweeping the globe, but the numbers are even more stark.

In short, there has been a “global implosion” in trust, Edelman says. This year’s survey recorded the largest-ever drop of trust in business, government, the media, and NGOs. A majority of people in two-thirds of countries surveyed now distrust these institutions, with all-time low levels of trust recorded in a number of places.

The report is timed to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The world leaders, corporate chieftains, and media moguls who gather at the exclusive Alpine jamboree won’t find much solace in its findings.

The credibility of corporate CEOs, the most common Davos delegate, fell off a cliff, with only 37% of people saying they trust them, a 12-point drop from the previous year. CEO credibility fell in every country surveyed—an impressive feat. Still, they remain more trusted than government leaders (29%), so that’s something.

The media also takes a beating in Edelman’s latest survey, with 43% of respondents expressing trust in the press, down from 48% the year before. Trust in media fell to an all-time low in 17 of the 28 countries polled.

“People now view media as part of the elite,” said Richard Edelman, president of the firm that bears his name. These days, that’s an uncomfortable place to be.

 Least trusted institution
Image: Edelmann/Quartz
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