Research

James Swift

19 September 2019

Is trust in crisis? Ipsos MORI claims it has the answer 

This week Ipsos MORI officially launched its report into the state of trust across the world with the news that there was no observable crisis in trust – but plenty of chronic problems.

The thrust of the Trust: The Truth? report, which combines Ipsos MORI's own research with that of other pollsters, is that there has been no sudden and terminal decline in general trust across the world.

In some places, trust has even improved. In Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, the number of people who agree that most people can be trusted increased between 1981 and 2017. The same is true of China and Australia between 1981 and 2018.

But while the report shows no sign of a crisis, it does highlight instances where cynicism is spiking and other areas where trust has eroded, slowly but chronically.

For instance, while many governments around the world are plagued by mistrust, Ipsos MORI’s report shows that people generally lost faith in their leaders many decades ago. In the US, the number of people who trust their government to do the right thing most of the time has fallen from 73% to 17% since 1958, according to Pew data. 

But most people seem to believe trust is falling, even when it isn't. For instance, in Sweden and Germany, 60% of people believe trust in government has declined over the past 20 years, when polls show that in reality levels of trust have stayed the same, perhaps even climbed a little. But then roughly the same number of people in Spain and Chile believe the same about trust in their governments, and they are correct.

Other findings defy easy analysis. The tech industry is the only one that more people described as trustworthy than untrustworthy, for instance. 

The conclusion is that our relationships with trust is complex, nebulous and, at times, contradictory.

You’d be forgiven for remembering fondly the time when everyone thought it was just in crisis.

Below are some stats and charts from the report that caught Contagious’ eye.

And if you want to hear more this topic then join us at Contagious Live in London on 3 October, when Ipsos MORI's chief executive Ben Page will be on stage to discuss politics, brands and public sentiment. Tickets are just £35. Click here for more details.

Ipsos MORI is a Contagious Live sponsor but had no editorial control or input into this article.