Americans Have Stopped Trusting Each Other

Tuesday, December 03, 2013
(graphic: zainabusman)

Trust is in short supply these days in the United States.


Only about 30% of Americans say most people can be trusted—down from 50% in 1972.


For most people (nearly two-thirds), their view of others can be summed up with: “you can’t be too careful.”


The high level of distrust applies to day-to-day living, with the percentage whose level of trust is “just somewhat,” “not too much” or ”not at all” rising to 65% when handing a credit card or debit card to a clerk, 75% when dealing with drivers on the road, and 78% when meeting strangers on trips.


One expert blames income inequality for Americans losing their trust.


University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, told the Associated Press (AP) that trust has gone down as the gap between the wealthy and the poor has grown.


“People who believe the world is a good place and it’s going to get better and you can help make it better, they will be trusting,” Uslaner said. “If you believe it’s dark and driven by outside forces you can’t control, you will be a mistruster.”


Some say trust has eroded as people have become greedy over money.


“I think people are acting more on their greed,” Bart Murawski, 27, a computer specialist who told AP he has witnessed scams and rip-offs. “Everybody wants a comfortable lifestyle, but what are you going to do for it? Where do you draw the line?”


Other factors are responsible as well.


A survey last year found nearly 80% of African-Americans weren’t very trusting, which may be a product of generations of racism, discrimination and high rates of poverty.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In God We Trust, Maybe, But Not Each Other (by Connie Cass, Associated Press/GFK)

Poll Results (Associated Press/GFK) (pdf)

Only 1 in 5 Americans Trust the Government to Do What Is Right (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


N. Joseph Potts 8 years ago
I think the intrusion of law (that is, force) into everything, INCLUDING ESPECIALLY our dealings with each other is responsible for the erosion of trust among people. It seems only logical to me, with the NSA knowing virtually everything about each of us, and any confidant being a potential threat, whether by their intention or inadvertently.
john 8 years ago
Of course no one would EVER think that 'african americans' lack of trust was due to their own tendencies or experience amongst their own. No, gots to be rayciss...
Charles Crosby 8 years ago
Didn't Obama campaign the first time on the topics of Hope, Trust and Change. He has since destroyed any hope and the only changes he has made have been for the worse and now American people no longer trust him, congress or one another. Looks like he's done a great job for the treacherous criminals who pull his strings - 10/10 and a Merit.

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