Doctors and scientists are seen as the world’s most trustworthy professions

The 2022 Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Index reveals that doctors and scientists are considered the world’s most trustworthy professions. The Index has tracked trust in many professions since 2018.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
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Across 28 countries around the world, a Global Country Average of 59% rate doctors as trustworthy, while 57% say the same about scientists, with teachers in third place at 52%. As in previous years, politicians are considered the least trustworthy with just twelve per cent considering them trusted. They are followed by government ministers (16%) and advertising executives (18%).

Focusing on trends since 2018 among 22 countries, the level of trust in doctors and scientists has fallen slightly compared with their pandemic-driven high scores in 2021, but only back to the position they had pre-pandemic. Trust in doctors has declined by six percentage points while scientists have seen a decrease of four points – although both have made up the top two in each year of the Index since 2018. Over the years, there has been little change in the proportion who see ordinary men and women as trustworthy, now at 37% and much in line with previous waves.

The Spanish are the most likely worldwide to rate doctors as trustworthy, with 71% scoring them one or two out of five for trustworthiness. Doctors are held in similar esteem in Mexico (70%) and the Netherlands (69%). Trust in doctors has fallen slightly in Great Britain, which was the most trusting nation in 2021: 66% consider them trustworthy, down from 72% in 2021.

  • Trust in doctors has fallen substantially in a number of countries which saw big increases in trust between 2019 and 2021: for instance, trust in doctors in Hungary has fallen by 21 percentage points between 2021 and 2022, after rising by 19 points between 2019 and 2020. Similarly in Poland, trust has fallen sixteen points between 2021 and 2022 (from 55% to 39%) after rising by 12 points between 2019 and 2021.
  • There have also been 11-point drops in trust in doctors in Italy, Turkey and Malaysia, as well as a fall of 10 points in the United States.
  • There are now four countries where less than half of the public consider doctors to be trustworthy: South Korea, Japan, Hungary and Poland. In 2021 this was true in only one country, South Korea.

Scientists are most trusted by Chinese citizens (71%) as well as those in Mexico (70%) and Spain (70%). The Japanese are least likely to consider them trustworthy (37%), followed by South Africans (44%), Poles (48%) and South Koreans (49%). As in previous years there has been less movement in trust figures for scientists, although there has been a significant drop in trust among residents of Poland, Hungary and Italy (all -13ppt) as well as the United States (-9ppt). By contrast, trust in scientists in Mexico has risen by ten percentage points since 2021.

Teachers remain the third-most trustworthy profession for the fourth wave in a row, with 52% rating them as trusted. The countries that find them most trustworthy are China (66%), Brazil (64%) and Chile (63%), while Japanese, South Korean and Polish people are least likely to think this (17%, 31% and 34%). Figures for trust in teachers have shifted less than for scientists and doctors, however trust has fallen by ten points in Poland, nine points in Malaysia and eight points in Italy.

As in previous years politicians, government ministers and advertising executives stand out as the least trustworthy professions. This year just 12% of the Global Country Average rate politicians as trustworthy, while 16% say the same for government ministers and 18% for ad executives. These scores are in line with those recorded last year, although in the subset of 22 countries that have been in each wave of the survey, the proportion who find advertising executives to be untrustworthy has risen by six points. Views towards politicians are lowest in Peru, Argentina and Chile, where around 8 in 10 see them as untrustworthy.

Looking at the results in Britain, doctors remain the most trustworthy profession (66%) despite a six-point decline this year (back to where they were in 2018). The next three most trustworthy professions have all also experienced only a marginal fall (of 3-4 percentage points) since 2021: scientists are on 62%, teachers on 59% and members of the armed forces on 51%. Judges are the fifth-most trustworthy profession, considered trusted by 49% of the public. As in previous years, politicians and government ministers are considered the least trustworthy, alongside advertising executives (although their trustworthy figures have increased from 9% to 16% this year).

Government ministers have experienced the biggest increase in the proportion who consider them untrustworthy: this has increased by eight points between 2021 and 2022, from 49% to 57%. They are now considered as untrustworthy as politicians more generally.

Some professions have seen significant increases in trust between 2021 and 2022: the proportion who consider journalists trustworthy has risen by seven points, from 13% to 20% and TV news readers have seen a similar boost (from 31% to 37%). Business leaders have seen their stock rise from 16% to 22%, and bankers have also trended up by five points to 23%. However pollsters have recorded the biggest increase, with a nine-point rise in their trustworthiness to 20% (although they are still are seen as more untrustworthy by 25%).

Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said:

As we exit the pandemic period, the state of trust in professions appears broadly unchanged. Yet although doctors remain the world’s most trustworthy profession, we have seen a slight decrease in trust overall compared with 2021. While at a global level this just takes trust in these roles back to their pre-pandemic levels, in some countries such as Poland, Hungary, the US and Italy we have seen more significant decreases in trust in both doctors and scientists.
The picture is similar with the professions the world trusts the least: as with previous years they are politicians and advertisers. Overall just over one in ten think politicians are trustworthy, and this figure is even lower in much of Latin America, as well as Hungary, Poland and Spain.


About this study

These are the findings of an Ipsos online survey conducted between 27 May and 10 June 2022.

The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world, via the Ipsos Online Panel system in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.

The results are comprised of an international sample of 21,515 adults aged 16-74 in most countries and aged 18-74 in Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US

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