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Measuring Attitudes about Trust


Recently, I read a Gallup survey reporting the views of Americans about ethics and honesty of people in various professions. In a sense, the findings indicate how much Americans trust the people in the professions. Nurses won the top spot at 84% "very high" ratings—they have been #1 for 15 years in a row. Clergy are in the middle at 44% and Members of Congress at the bottom of their list at 8%.  
Read the survey for more details of this 2017 study.

I was surprised by the clergy data. And found another survey, which produced similar results in the UK. The Ipsos MORI poll reported that school-age children highly trusted doctors to tell the truth (88%). But clergy came in at 46%, which is below Scientists at 53%.

Levels of trust can vary. And trust can be defined in different ways.

How do you measure trust?

I found two short trust scales at the Fetzer organization, which are available in a pdf document (see below). You will find references to studies in addition to a description of the scales.

The General Trust Scale was developed by Yamagishi (1986). It uses a 5-item Likert type rating scale where 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree.

Two sample items are:

1.) Most people are basically honest.
2.) Most people are trustworthy.

The scale is score by adding the items together.

The 5-item Trust Scale is also available and rated on the same 5-item Likert-type scale of agreement.

Two sample items are:

1.) Most people tell a lie when they can benefit by doing so.
2.) Those devoted to unselfish causes are often exploited by others.

Following is a link to the Fetzer document where you can download the measures and research summaries.


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