It’s a fact… scientists are the most trusted people in the world

A new Ipsos poll reveals that doctors are considered the most trustworthy profession in the Australia, while scientists are the most trusted globally. Advertising executives are the least trusted profession in Australia.

The author(s)

  • David Elliott Director - PA
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  • Seven in ten Australians view doctors as being the most trustworthy profession (69%)
  • Politicians viewed as the most untrustworthy profession (64%) in Australia
  • Australians have the least trust in advertising executives (8%)

Six in ten of the global public rate scientists as trustworthy and just one in ten consider them untrustworthy. The next most-trustworthy profession globally is doctors (56% trustworthy), followed by teachers (52%). Politicians are the least trusted group globally.

The Ipsos Global Trust in Professions survey, completed online by adults aged 16-74 in 22 countries including Australia, showed that while the most trustworthy profession varies across the countries covered, there is greater agreement on the professions considered to be untrustworthy. In all countries polled, politicians are seen as the most untrustworthy profession – globally, two thirds of the public consider politicians generally to be untrustworthy (67%) and almost six in ten say the same about Government Ministers (57%).

A snapshot of trustworthiness in Australia

In Australia, Doctors are the most trustworthy profession (69%), followed by a group of four different professions: Scientists (62%), Teachers (60%), Armed Forces (58%), and the Police (56%). The professions most likely to be considered untrustworthy were politicians (64%), Government ministers (55%), Advertising executives (55%), Bankers (52%) and Clergy/Priests (42%).

Australia is one of only nine countries that had a positive score on the Global Trustworthiness Index.  The Index looks at the net trust score (the difference between the proportion considering a profession trustworthy and the proportion considering a profession untrustworthy). A positive index score means most of the professions listed have net positive scores – so more people consider them to be trustworthy rather than untrustworthy.

Australia

Australian Ranking

 

Global

All countries ranking

Detailed global findings

Doctors are the most trustworthy profession for citizens of Australia (69%) as well as Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, South Africa, Spain and Sweden (where they are tied with scientists). Australia ties with Spain as having the highest trust in doctors across countries (69%). Doctors are the second most trustworthy profession globally (56%).

Scientists are overall the most trustworthy profession globally (60%) as well as in individual countries: Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Turkey. Scientists are the second most trustworthy profession in Australia (62%).

Teachers are the third most trustworthy profession for Australian citizens (60%), which is in line with global rankings (52%). Teachers are the most trustworthy profession for Brazilians (57%) and Americans (61%). 

Australians rank the Armed Forces as the fourth most trusted profession (58%), which although in line with the global average ranking, is actually 15 percentage points above it (43%). While Indians are the only country to see armed forces members as the most trustworthy profession. 

Perceptions of the trustworthiness of servicemen and women are highest in China (72%), India (70%) and the US (60%), while they are particularly low in Germany (24%) and South Korea (18%).

Australia’s trust in ordinary men and women (42%) is slightly higher than global views (37%), although is ranked one spot lower as the seventh most trusted profession.

Trust in the police – overall the fifth-most trusted profession at 38% – ranges widely from the most trusted in China (80%) to the least trusted in Mexico (11%). Although Australia is in line with global views ranking the police as the fifth most trusted profession, Australia is 18 percentage points above the global average. Australia is the second highest country in the world for trust in the police (56%) after China (80%). In addition to China and Australia, a majority of the public consider the police to be trustworthy in France (53%), Canada (52%) and Italy (50%). 

Pollsters are the second least trusted profession in Australia (9%). Australia’s trust in pollsters is two and a half times lower than the global average (23%). Additionally, across countries Australia has the lowest trust in pollsters, closely followed by Japan (10%) and Great Britain (11%). While China (45%), Saudi Arabia (39%) and Russia (39%) have the highest trust in pollsters. 

Australia has the least trust in advertising executives (8%), which is only slightly below the global average (13%). In line with the rest of the world (67%), Australia sees politicians in general as the most untrustworthy profession (64%).

The Global Trustworthiness Index

Comparing net trust scores across nations shows which countries are marked by low trust in professions, and which show higher levels of trust. 

In all, nine of 22 countries in the index have positive scores. This means that most of the professions listed have net positive scores – so more people consider them to be trustworthy rather than untrustworthy. The remaining 13 countries have negative scores, which indicates higher levels of distrust with most professions. The overall figure for all 22 countries is also negative.

  • China scores highest on the Index, followed by India, with Canada in third.
  • Sweden, the USA, France, Australia, Great Britain and Germany also show positive scores, meaning citizens of these countries are more trusting of most professions covered in the poll.
  • Argentina, South Korea and Hungary are the bottom three countries on the index, indicating high levels of distrust with professions. These three countries are notably more negative than the rest of the countries in the poll, which also have negative scores overall.

Global Trust Index

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director, Ipsos Australia Social Research Institute, said: “It has been said that we are losing faith in experts. This study shows that in fact, scientists are held in high esteem both here and in Australia.  

“The high levels of trust placed in many professions of crucial importance to our society are encouraging as they indicate that we don’t think society is completely broken.  We still have a lot of trust in many important professions, like doctors, teachers, the armed forces and the police.  What is more concerning for us as a society are the low levels of trust in politicians, government ministers, bankers, journalists, clergy/priests and business leaders.

“Encouragingly for my colleagues and industry, while pollsters sit at the bottom on trustworthiness this looks to be more a result of many being undecided rather a strong sense of untrustworthiness.  When we look at the proportions indicating a profession is untrustworthy, pollsters soar to 8th position as the most untrustworthy well behind politicians, government ministers, advertising executives, bankers, clergy/priests, journalists and lawyers.”

The author(s)

  • David Elliott Director - PA

Society