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With rising incomes, young in US losing trust in others

Sun, Sep 07, 2014, 11:54 AM
Washington, Sep 7 : With an increasing amount of money in their bank accounts, young people's trust in others and confidence in societal institutions are at their lowest point in over three decades, says a new survey.

Young people today are more optimistic about their own prospects, but are apparently deeply distrustful of other people and large institutions.

"Adults show these trends as well, suggesting that these attitudes are a product of the times and not necessarily a permanent generational shift," explained lead researcher Jean M. Twenge, a psychological scientist from the San Diego State University.

According to him, compared to Americans in the 1970s-2000s, the US citizens in the last few years are less likely to say they can trust others.

"They are also less likely to believe that institutions such as the government, the press, religious organisations, schools and large corporations are doing a good job," Twenge added.

"With the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, people trust each other less. There is a growing perception that other people are cheating or taking advantage to get ahead," he noted.

To examine trust over time, researchers looked at data from two large, national representative surveys of people in the US: the General Social Survey of adults (1972-2012) and the Monitoring the Future Survey of 12th graders (1976-2012).

Together, the surveys included data from nearly 140,000 participants.

The data showed, for example, that while 46 percent of adult Americans agreed that most people can be trusted in 1972-1974, only 33 percent agreed in 2010-2012.

Among 12th graders, while 32 percent agreed that most people can be trusted in 1976-1978, only 18 percent did so in 2010-2012.

The respondents in both surveys reported high confidence in institutions in the late 1980s and again in the early 2000s, with confidence then declining to reach its lowest point in the early 2010s.

"The decline of social capital is a profoundly negative trend for a democracy, a system of government predicated on the few representing the interests of the many," researchers concluded.

The findings appeared in the journal Psychological Science.
Agency: IANS

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