Trusting Peers more than institutions

PR expert Richard Edelman, who has his own blog, summarizes a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report showing that trust in peers is exploding, while trust in mediating institutions is declining. Here’s a summary quote:

“The most profound finding of the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer is that in six of the 11 countries surveyed, the “person like yourself or your peer” is seen as the most credible spokesperson about a company and among the top three spokespeople in every country surveyed. This has advanced steadily over the past three years.

In the US, for example, the “person like yourself or your peer” was only trusted by 22% of respondents as recently as 2003, while in this year’s study, 68% of respondents said they trusted a peer. Contrast that to the CEO, who ranks in the bottom half of credible sources in all countries, at 28% trust in the US, near the level of lawyers and legislators. In China, the “person like yourself or your peer” is trusted by 54% of respondents, compared to the next highest spokesperson, a doctor, at 43%.

Meanwhile, “friends and family” and “colleagues” rank as two of the three most credible sources for information about a company, just behind articles in business magazines. Again, in the US, the “colleagues” number has jumped from 38% in 2003 to 56% in 2006. We facilitated the revolt by employees of Morgan Stanley against top management, soliciting opinions through their website, which then led to stories in traditional media.

Why the change, with increased reliance on those you know? The Edelman Trust Barometer shows clearly the deep trust void facing traditional institutions including business, government, and the media.”

If you know French, I recommend the following article about the crisis of trust and the new post-media subjectivation.


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