Trust Crisis; Alarming Levels of Mistrust

A quarter of the adults in the United Kingdom express mistrust towards others, which sheds light on the growing crisis of trust within society, according to a latest survey conducted by the University of Oxford.


Out of 10,382 UK adults surveyed, 13.7% described themselves as very trusting, 61.4% as generally trusting, 19.6% as generally mistrustful, and 5.3% as very mistrustful. Additionally, 17% expressed a desire for help to be more trusting, highlighting the recognition of exaggerated mistrust among participants.


Discrimination emerged as a significant factor fuelling mistrust, with experiences of unfair treatment based on skin colour, ethnicity, age, sex, sexuality, mental and physical health, and religious beliefs contributing to feelings of vulnerability. The survey found that discrimination played a pivotal role in fostering mistrust.

Professor Daniel Freeman, study lead, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, said: ‘The survey suggests that a crisis of trust may be developing in the UK. A significant minority of the participants in our study reported mistrusting other people. Not only that, but these individuals also said that they were more mistrustful than they should be and wanted help to rebuild their confidence in other people. So, our survey participants understood that the threats they perceived were exaggerated. They knew they might be misjudging others. Mistrust makes the world seem a much more stressful, frightening place. It’s no surprise then that so many people are keen to repair their sense of trust.’


Protective strategies, such as limiting social interactions, vigilance for danger, and attempts to remain inconspicuous, were identified as influential psychological factors contributing to and perpetuating lack of trust. Negative self-thoughts and images, reinforcing a sense of vulnerability, were also key contributors.


the lack of trust was found to be more prevalent in younger individuals, with age identified as the strongest sociodemographic factor influencing mistrust levels.

Urgent Need for Rebuilding Trust The survey underscores the development of a trust crisis in the UK, urging attention to address the root causes of mistrust. Discrimination, both societal and personal, along with psychological factors, plays a central role in fostering an environment of the lack opf trust. The findings emphasize the urgency of rebuilding trust within communities to create a safer and more cohesive society.


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