Trusted groups – details and trends

The headlines yesterday about a Institute for Governance and Policy Studies survey on trust – Not trusted: bloggers, MPs, media – not surprisingly lacked detail.

This shows a lot more complexity than was reported:

TrustSurvey

Bunching a couple of totals like little trust/no trust does not come close to giving the whole picture.

The changes in trust levels are also of interest:

TrustSurveyChanges

Dirty politics revelations may have played a part in the reducing trust in bloggers (particularly Cameron Slater/Whale Oil) and also perhaps politicians – and possible also media.

Local government and corporation trends are also quite negative.

But why are charities and churches trending towards less trust?

Perhaps people are becoming more distrustful generally. Is this to do with relentless attacks and focussing on negatives in media and online?

The published survey conclusions:

There are two key questions that our survey cannot answer here: first, what people mean when they interpret and use the word “trust”; second, why they feel the way that they do. This is the research agenda that the IGPS will follow in the months and years ahead.

As we have previously stated this report is intended to ask a question rather than posit an answer – what is the current state of play in New Zealand around public trust? To that end the research suggests some potentially serious issues.

Our research findings are a significant contrast to those of some previous reports. In stark contrast to the OECD, for example, our findings suggest that, politically, New Zealand is not a high-trust nation. Obviously we must be cautious here; the survey only presents a snapshot and is the baseline for which future studies can assess whether or not the situation is improving or deteriorating, but even with that caveat in mind our findings also suggest that trust in political institutions and the media has been lowered over the last three years.

Perhaps a more radical theme, even if it is again fairly tentative at this stage, is that New Zealand is a country divided over public trust. Relatively well-off white men are more trusting of government than those with lower incomes, the Māori and Pasifika communities, and also women. Such a pattern is not to be taken lightly. It indicates that there are possible social ruptures about not only how government is perceived but who it is perceived to be serving. As such our findings also appear to confirm previous findings that levels of institutional trust among the Māori community may have been overestimated.

Of course, at a radical level, none of the above may be a problem and a lack of trust may be a sign of a healthy democracy. Some may ask, why should we trust those in power anyway? In order to better understand these arguments we will need to undertake a much deeper level of research needs because what may appear to be a trust issue may be something even more complex and fundamental about New Zealand society in the 21st century.

No matter what our perspectives, however, one thing is for certain – New Zealand needs to talk about trust. We hope that this report can kickstart an important national conversation that can be conducted in a constructive and respectful way. IGPS will work with anybody who is interested in pursuing this agenda further and we sincerely hope you find the research of interest.

Source (PDF): Who do we trust survey March 2016

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19 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  6th April 2016

    Its an interesting result that may reflect that many of us do not really encounter these groups at a level where we can form a reliable view. An example is the police where I have had no real contact except via traffic and one burglary where one made up a number for speed to issue a ticket but eventually dropped the matter and the other case saw no prosecution result (got close though) despite photo ID of the suspect. The other police encounters have been via a family member alleging rape and assault against a young man (that I didn’t like at 100 yards). The two police I met at home about the rape matter were both professional, helpful and encouraging. Despite that encouraging encounter I still don’t trust ”them” at all but would put myself out for some within it.

    Politicians are different of course – I don’t trust them at all – none of them. You still act correctly as you should to anyone but that’s just good manners and does not imply respect.

    Reply
  2. IMO the survey is a symptom of an increasing awareness of state corruption and the manipulation of mainstream and social media. Distrust of churches follows from the union of the state and church.

    The source of the corruption is the attempt to accommodate secular politics within a theistic framework, i.e. the incompatibility of the civil system used by the state with the law of the land.

    This situation isn’t unique to New Zealand, the US and the commonwealth nations all have this problem to varying degrees, expect that the US doesn’t have the union of the church state to contend with.

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  6th April 2016

    I think lack of trust in the political system is a symptom of increasing awareness of politicians being maybe not directly corrupt but particularly self-serving and implementing policies that are stacked in favour of hugely benefiting those with wealth and power, and the manipulation of mainstream and social media by various interests, political and economic.

    Distrust of churches I wonder if maybe arises from perceptions that several of them have turned out to be pastored by con men, or pedophiles who were known about and not dealt with appropriately. Also, many of their congregations tend to behave in ways that exclude others, even at the same time as their church leaders are preaching oneness.

    Just some thoughts.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  6th April 2016

    I wouldn’t put much credence on the change over the past three years. I doubt people’s recall is either accurate or unbiased.

    I would also question whether people’s need to trust (eg police, doctors) is influencing their reported trust levels.

    Reply
    • According to cultural historian Richard Tarnas people have a hard-wired program to believe in a higher power. In a secular society that higher power is perceived to be government, so perhaps police and doctors become the target of that program when government is seen to be untrustworthy.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  6th April 2016

        I think you have to consider the degree to which the sector is seen as united rather than factional. Why would the public trust a sector which is full of internal disputes and competition? If they do, then their definition of trust is different from that applied to a sector that is substantially united.

        Reply
      • @ Ugly Truth – I find both your comments so far extremely interesting. Notwithstanding I am still not well informed about what you mean by the difference between “civil law” and “law of the land” (just now researching), you say, “the US doesn’t have the union of the church state to contend with.”

        Really!? Do you actually believe that? Here’s the preamble to a National Assoc of Evangelicals publication –

        “Evangelical Christians in America face a historic opportunity,” the preamble begins. “We make up fully one quarter of all voters in the most powerful nation in history. Never before has God given American evangelicals such an awesome opportunity to shape public policy.”

        http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2011/07/gods-lobbyists/

        You also say, “people have a hard-wired program to believe in a higher power. In a secular society that higher power is perceived to be government”

        Isn’t it interesting – as you point out – that the top four most trusted groups (if not five including Universities) are organs of government and/or organistions or occupations heavily regulated by both government and profession, e.g doctors? [The health system since it isn’t otherwise represented?]

        I would dearly love to argue that the new ‘Gods’ are Corporations (including Financiers) but the survey puts the lie to this idea. They’ve been given God-like status, permission and powers to do as they will with our economy and way-of-life (converting it from production based to finance based, from egalitarian to hierarchical principles, devastated communities et al) but after nearly 35 years of it peoples’ level of trust in them is very low, tenuous at best, roughly equivalent to the politicians who colluded with them in the whole neoliberal undertaking.

        We are their followers and/or obedient servants, often electors, even though we don’t believe in them. Moloch!

        http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1507/S00101/the-fire-economy-new-zealands-reckoning-by-jane-kelsey.htm

        Ψ – back on the rails

        Reply
        • @PartizanZ.

          The civil law originated as Roman law, while English common law is historically known as the law of the land. NZ inherited common law from the English settlers, but the Windsors established civil government here. The common law is fundamentally theistic and as such is in conflict with the secular state of New Zealand. Another difference between the two systems is the rule of law, which is essential for a common law society but not for the civil state, which looks to the people for its source of authority.

          Link

          When I say there’s no union of the church and state in the US what I mean there’s no explicit role for Christianity within the US constitution. Of course many of the people of America are Christians and their religion inevitably affects their politics. The US draws from English common law in a similar way that NZ does, but its written constitution is framed in the language of the civil state and its national symbol of the eagle also draws from Roman culture.

          The observation that people have a hard-wired belief in a higher power was made by cultural historian Richard Tarnas, and I think it’s consistent with your observation that the groups who are described as being more trusted have strong connections with government.

          Corporations are the creations of the state and don’t have a natural moral compass like people do. The documentary “The Corporation” describes them as being psychopathic in nature even though the people who run them are not themselves psychopaths.

          Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  6th April 2016

    There are two key questions that our survey cannot answer here: first, what people mean when they interpret and use the word “trust”; second, why they feel the way that they do. This is the research agenda that the IGPS will follow in the months and years ahead.

    I thought this was an interesting observation. I’ll be keen to see what conclusions come out of that research.

    Reply
  6. Analysis of voting patterns in the US shows that in the 2016 presidential contests vote fraud works against Trump and Sanders and benefits Clinton, Rubio, and Kasich.

    The evidence is based on a method called “cumulative vote share” (CVS) analysis in which a graph is made for county results that shows the cumulative vote percentage by adding in precincts according to the precinct size, with the smallest precincts included first.

    http://82.221.129.208/holygrail.html

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  6th April 2016

      Interesting but flawed. Small precincts may tend to be rural and have different demographics and voting patterns than large urban. Also you would expect the pollsters to be giving a different result from the election were this the case and I don’t think that has been happening in a noticeable way.

      Reply
      • Yes, the demographics issue is well known to the CVS people. The thing is that the fraud pattern can occur in states where the demographics don’t look like the fraud pattern, the example case from the Jim Stone’s page being New Hampshire.

        Pollster’s can be corrupted as well, the reason that CVS works is that the fraudsters are pragmatic in their risk/reward strategy.

        Reply
  7. Brown

     /  6th April 2016

    I think that most people have too little interaction with most of these groups to really have an opinion based on fact rather than perceptions. For example, I have had six recentish interactions with the police – two speeding matters where the cops made up a number so they could issue a speeding ticket – the first went no where because I had a witness who worked at the High Court and the second eventually backed off because I had a radar detector. The last traffic matter was an insecure load (I had the tie downs but drove off without using them after getting distracted) but the cop gave me a written warning when a ticket would have been perfectly reasonable. In a burglary I made my own enquiries and gave the police photo ID of the suspect (who had form) yet they elected not to proceed and two recent interactions in connection with a rape complaint made by a family member (not against me). Three were pretty disappointing to say the least and the speeding matters were plain fraud but the others were great with the police being very professional, kind and helpful.

    On balance I still don’t trust them as an organisation but within the organisation there are fantastic people I’d go the extra mile for any time.

    Reply
  8. Oliver

     /  6th April 2016

    Signs of a revolution coming. This is more telling then any poll. It shows the people don’t trust John Key or the national party neo liberal policies. People are aware that the media is corrupt, the justice system is corrupt, the ministries are incompetent. The matches the data about New Zealand becoming a more corrupt countries, and now the shocking revelations that the key govn’t involvement in the Panama scandal. All the pieces are falling in to place.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  6th April 2016

      Mindless rant #758.

      Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  6th April 2016

      Note to Oliver: Must troll harder………at least post some facts rather than just make stuff up.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  6th April 2016

        Note to self and others on YNZ….don’t read Oliver.

        The Reader’s Digest survey of most trusted people is meaningless; if it’s a question of selecting the most/least from a list, someone has to come first and someone last. It’s also meaningless in that, unless one knows the person, one can’t really say that one trusts them-and trusts them in which ways ? I’d trust Andrew Little not to rip me off or bash me up, but not to run the country.

        Reply
        • Pantsdownbrown

           /  6th April 2016

          Just pretty much ignore Oliver nowadays. Even if you look at the info given govt ministers rate better than MPs suggesting that the opposition MPs are even less regarded than the govt (hence why they still languish in the polls).

          Reply
  9. Kitty Catkin

     /  6th April 2016

    It would be impossible to say that one trusts all or none of a group, so these surveys are meaningless. A local doctor was a drug addict, and I would not be willing to say that I trusted his judgement at that time. I was assaulted sexually as a teenager by a doctor (I was a patient) . But I still trust doctors as a group unless I have reason to distrust an individual. The same goes for other groups.

    Reply

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