I was shocked this week by an email quoting research by British sociologist David Halperin that only 29% of British people believed that others can be trusted. Mind-boggling though that statistic is, even more amazing is the fact that this figure has declined from 60% only 40 years ago. If you assume that trust will continue to decline at the same rate in the future, this means we have 37 years to go until no-one trusts anybody! How depressing is that thought?
Of course no-one can forecast such things precisely and it is in any case hypothesising to a ridiculous extent to think that figure could ever reach zero. Isn’t it? Heavens, I do hope so! No society can flourish without trust.
In any event my first reaction was to check out this research myself. After all, you can’t trust just any statistic sent in an email or that you come across on the internet, can you? (Damn! See how contagious this distrust is.) Unfortunately I cannot provide a direct link but a Google search on “David Halperin trust” led me to a PowerPoint presentation on the first page called “Why trust is a …” and I thoroughly recommend you see this for yourself.
This presentation was actually created in 2006 which means that we are already at least 7 years further into our decline, but it reveals some very scary statistics. For instance:-