PEW: Most Americans Distrust Tech Leaders

Pew Research, Americans, Survey, Ethics, Leaders

Americans don’t trust members of Congress and are more likely to have confidence in journalists, police and the military, a Pew Research Center study reported Thursday (Sept.20).

Researchers have discovered that the public’s trust in different organizations and political leaders hinges on the perception of honesty and proficiency. The study indicates that the “building blocks of trust” vary in relation to school principals, religious leaders, tech company heads, reporters, military and the police.

People holding influential positions sometimes behave dishonestly, people surveyed said, with some 81 percent believing members of Congress act unethically some of the time. At least 77 percent said they believe technology companies also exhibit unscrupulous behavior, and 69 percent said they think the same thing about religious leaders.

Those surveyed also said they thought the punishment for unethical behavior was not strict enough. More than a third of Americans indicated they thought unacceptable conduct was handled with tolerance and offenders faced few ramifications.

As far as the trust of Congress compared to local elected officials, Republicans and Democrats greatly differed, according to the report. Overall, two-thirds of people surveyed said they felt that local politicians sometimes cared about their constituents.

However, members of Congress were deemed the least reliable segment regarding facts. The study indicated that Americans have more faith in K-12 public school principals when it comes to contributing responsible and objective data to the public.

Ethics and trust came up in May research from Jumio concerning how consumers view the sharing economy. Only two-thirds of American adult consumers said they felt “very safe” or “somewhat safe” when using online sharing platforms and services. About 20 percent of those consumers told Jumio they feel “somewhat unsafe” or “not safe at all” when it comes to the sharing economy.

Those consumer views could have a significant impact now and down the road, given that the sharing economy will have some 88.5 million users by 2021, with at least $335 billion being transacted via those products, services and online platforms, according to Jumio.