2011 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust Sinks in the U.S.

Findings from the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer show that trust in U.S. government, media, business, and NGOs sank. Trust in business dropped eight points to 46 percent, placing the U.S. just five points above Russia, which is in last place. Trust in government fell six percent in the U.S. to 40 percent, putting the U.S. among the bottom four countries in that category. In composite rankings of all four categories, the U.S. is fourth from the bottom. It was in the top group of four just three years ago.

Both Brazil and Germany saw a rise in trust, and China and India maintained at a steady level. Trust in NGOs was above 50 percent in every country except Russia.

Edelman’s research goes on to show that 57 percent of people globally are more inclined to believe negative information about an organization when there is distrust at the outset. In the U.S., 23 percent of respondents need to hear something six times to believe it. Fourteen percent said they need to hear it ten  or more times.

And corporate reputation is based on four factors – quality products, trust, transparency, and employee welfare, with the Trust Barometer showing that CEOs, academics, and other experts have risen in credibility while a “person like me” have fallen.

This year’s Barometer was the 11th annual survey. It was conducted by StrategyOne, which interviewed 5,075 people in two groups – ages 25 to 34 and 35 to 64 – in 23 countries. All respondents fell into certain criteria including college-educated and a household income in the top quartile for their age group in that country.