The Erosion of Trust by Brian Lynch,
Executive Secretary at TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change)
Just 36 per cent of the general population in Ireland trusts the government, the media, business and NGOs, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017. This represents a drop of five points since 2016, and sees Ireland in the bottom four countries (along with Russia, Poland and Japan) when it comes to public levels of trust in these institutions.
A nine-point gap emerges in the levels of trust expressed by the ‘informed public’ (those aged 25-64 years with a college education, in the top 25 per cent of household income and with significant media consumption) and the mass population. Thirty-five per cent of the mass population trusts the government, media, business and NGOs, compared to 44 per cent of the ‘informed public’.
Trust in the media in Ireland fell 10 points to just 29 per cent, compared with a Global 28 average of 43 per cent. In fact, the media is distrusted in 82 per cent of the countries surveyed. The government fares slightly better, with 32 per cent of respondents saying that they would trust the government to ‘do what is right’. Forty-one per cent of respondents in Ireland say that they would trust business, while 43 per cent of respondents expressed a similar view towards NGOs, a drop of six points on 2016.
Unsurprisingly, this lack of trust in institutions can also be seen in the high number of Irish people, 59 per cent, who believe that the system is not working.
Recalling Michael Gove’s now infamous remark that we ‘have had enough of experts’, 60 per cent of respondents to the survey said that they are just as likely to find a person like themselves to be as credible as a technical expert or an academic expert.
The survey also finds considerable evidence of an echo chamber at play, with 53 per cent of respondents saying that they do not regularly listen to people or organisations with whom they often disagree. Similarly they report that they are nearly four times more likely to ignore information that supports a position that they do not believe in.
*The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s seventeeth annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was done by research firm Edelman Intelligence and consisted of 25-minute online interviews conducted on 13 October-16 November 2016. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer online survey sampled more than 33,000 respondents, including 1,150 general population respondents and 200 informed public respondents in Ireland.