Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Most People Can't Be Trusted

It's not only the number of candles on a birthday cake that separate younger from older Americans. A survey by Pew Research Center finds a huge attitudinal gap between young adults (aged 18 to 29) and older Americans (aged 65-plus) on matters of trust.

Pew surveyed Americans to measure their level of interpersonal trust, then categorized respondents as high, medium, or low trusters based on their answers to three questions—can people be trusted, do people try to be fair no matter what, and do people try to help others. Overall, 22 percent of adults are high trusters, 41 percent are medium trusters, and 35 percent are low trusters.

There are big differences by age. Nearly half (46 percent) of 18-to-29-year-olds are low trusters, reports Pew. Among people aged 65 or older, only 19 percent fall into this category. The 60 percent majority of young adults say most people can't be trusted (versus 29 percent of people aged 65 or older), 71 percent say most people try to take advantage of you if they get a chance (versus 39 percent), and 73 percent say most of the time people just look out for themselves (versus 48 percent).

Stark differences emerge between young adults and the oldest Americans on a number of other questions as well. For example, only 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds versus 67 percent of people aged 65 or older have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American people to respect the rights of those who are not like them. Just 44 percent of young adults versus 66 percent of those aged 65-plus have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American public to accept election results no matter who wins.

Source: Pew Research Center, Young Americans Are Less Trusting of Other People—and Key Institutions—than Their Elders

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