Trust Barometer 2022
Today Europe is faced with a deluge of generational issues which require urgent action – from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the COVID pandemic to longer-term systemic issues like climate change and inequality – it is of the utmost importance that citizens can trust in the key institutions which make up democratic societies, government, media, civil society, and business.
Unfortunately, we currently find ourselves in a world ensnared in a vicious cycle of distrust, fuelled by a growing lack of faith in the government and media in particular. Left unchecked, the following four forces, evident in the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, are set to undermine institutions and further destabilize society if not addressed:
- Government-media distrust spiral. Two institutions people rely on for truth are doing a dangerous tango of short-term mutual advantage, with exaggeration and division to gain clicks and votes.
- Excessive reliance on business. Government failure has created an over-reliance on business to fill the void, a job that private enterprise was not designed to deliver.
- Mass-class divide. The global pandemic has widened the fissure that surfaced in the wake of the Great Recession. High-income earners have become more trusting of institutions, while lower-income earners remain wary.
- Failure of leadership. Classic societal leaders in government, the media and business have been discredited. Trust, once hierarchical, has become local and dispersed as people rely on my employer, my colleagues, my family. Coinciding with this upheaval is a collapse of trust within democracies and a trust surge within autocracies.
The media business model has become dependent on generating partisan outrage, while the political model has become dependent on exploiting it. Whatever short-term benefits either institution derives, it is a long-term catastrophe for society. Distrust is now society’s default emotion, with nearly 60% inclined to distrust.