The Cycle of Distrust: Edelman’s Latest Trust Index Shows Business Trusted More than Government or Media

Edelman’s annual worldwide “trust index” shows business holding steady and more trusted than government or media, but still only at at only 61 percent. In May 2020, government was most trusted at 65 percent, with business at 62 percent. The survey showed government and media seen as more divisive than business (which has more reason to take a low-profile, middle-of-the road approach).

“Fake news” has become a central concern, according to 76 percent of respondents, up four percentage points from last year. Business is seen at more effective in solving problems, equal at 55 percent of NGOs and substantially ahead of the other categories at the ability to execute on plans.

All groups got poor marks on pandemic response, and not surprisingly business had its worst score on response to climate change, 69 percent negative. But NGOs, government, and media were all in the 60s as well.

Higher income respondents were more trusting than lower, and Democrats more trusting (55 percent) than Republicans, whose trust index fell 14 points to just 35 percent. Ranking high on trustworthiness was limited to scientists and people actually known to the respondents.

Most concerning is the increase in default distrust, a “prove it” assumption that people in authority will lie. Edelman points out that this is severely destabilizing.

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