December 1, 2013
The majority of American people do not trust each other, according to a poll conducted by AP-GfK last month.
The poll indicated that only one-third of Americans say most can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question, The Associated Press reported. Now, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful in dealing with people.”
The survey found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.
“I’m leery of everybody,” said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, NY “Caution is always a factor.”
Political and social scientists are worried about the lack of “social trust” that, they believe, can bring good things. Distrust, however, encourages corruption, they say.
Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher, said, as reported by the AP
“It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.”
The worse thing is that it’s not easy to fix this problem of the American society, some studies suggest.
It’s too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting as the basis for a person’s lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war,” according to the studies, cited by the AP.