Confidence in politicians and managers remains low
International GfK survey on how far people trust various professional groups
Nuremberg, August 8, 2008 – People trust politicians less than any other group. Only 14% of respondents in Europe believe that their political representatives are trustworthy. The reputation of advertising experts and managers of major companies is also rather tarnished. Citizens in Europe believe that the fire service and doctors are the most trustworthy, followed by teachers and postal services. These are the findings of the latest GfK Trust Index survey carried out by GfK Custom Research.
More than 90% of respondents in Europe and the USA rely on the unwavering commitment and expertise of firefighters. At the same time, 83% of Europeans believe that doctors are particularly trustworthy and reliable. Almost as many participants in the survey from Europe expressed their trust in teachers. Only 14% of respondents, however, thought that politicians are trustworthy. Accordingly, this group brings up the rear in the rating of trust levels. They are joined at the bottom of the league table by advertising experts and managers of major companies. Only approximately a third of respondents rated these groups of professionals as trustworthy.
Italian and Greek politicians least trusted
The survey revealed a mixed picture for the different countries and regions. In Western Europe, the percentage of respondents who do not trust political leaders in their countries was as low as 13%. Politicians are held in particularly low regard in Italy (6%) and Greece (9%) as well as France and Germany (10% in both countries). In the USA, the political elite is also ranked lowest on the Trust Index. However, at 22%, the proportion of US respondents who trust their politicians is considerably higher than in Western Europe. Similar values were achieved by politicians in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Sweden.
The GfK Trust Index shows that managers of major companies and advertising executives also receive little trust in Western Europe. Around 70% of subjects mistrust these groups of professionals. The level of trust of German respondents in corporate high-flyers is particularly low. Only 15% trust managers of major companies. No other nation expressed such a high level of distrust.
Among the Western European countries, managers are most highly regarded in Spain, Portugal and Sweden. Here, no less than approximately 40% trust company bosses. The image of managers is even more positive in Central and Eastern Europe, where an average of around 50% of respondents believe that they are trustworthy. However, Russia represents an exception, with only some 25% trusting this group of professionals. In the USA, approximately a third of subjects thought that managers can be trusted. These professionals are therefore third lowest in the trust rankings.
With regard to the advertising industry, the French and Dutch expressed a particularly high level of distrust at 80%. This group of professionals also scored low in the USA and was rated last but one. The majority of the population rated advertising experts as trustworthy in only two Central and Eastern European countries, Romania and Poland.
The fire service remains in top place
As was the case in the last survey six months ago, firefighters were once again accorded the highest levels of trust. More than 90% of Western Europeans and Americans count on their fire service. In Central and Eastern Europe, the firefighters came in second place, scoring 80% in the Trust Index. In these regions, respondents believed that teachers are the most trustworthy group.
In Western Europe, doctors are the next most trusted group and follow in second place with a slight gap. Around 84% of respondents said that they trust this group of professionals, although Greece was an exception. Only 51% thought that doctors in their country are trustworthy. Postal workers (81%) came in third place, followed by teachers (79%).
In the USA, postal service providers rank in second place, receiving the same level of trust as doctors in Western Europe.
The police, armed forces and justice system
In Western Europe and the USA, approximately three quarters of respondents trust the police. Swedes (87%) and Germans (85%), in particular, think that the police are trustworthy. They are viewed far less favorably in Central and Eastern Europe, where only 47% expressed a positive opinion.
The level of trust given to the armed forces in Western Europe is similar to the police. In the USA, the armed forces scored 10 percentage points higher in terms of trust levels compared with the police, with around 83% expressing a positive opinion. This places the armed forces in third place in the USA, just ahead of teachers and doctors.
Judges and environmental agencies were rated as trustworthy by around 60% of respondents in Western Europe and the USA as well as Central and Eastern Europe. Swedes, the Dutch, Polish and Germans have a particularly high opinion of the courts.
Market researchers, the clergy and lawyers
Market researchers, the clergy, charities and law firms also scored a marginal majority in Western Europe. It is notable that the clergy are held in particularly high esteem in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Sweden, the USA, Germany and Portugal. An above-average number of Germans also hold law firms in high regard (69%). Only law firms in Sweden achieved a similarly high value in the trust stakes.