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Trust Fall: Patterns and Prospective Futures in General Trust

Declining general trust is a puzzle yet to receive the attention it warrants. Previous studies have examined other angles such as trust’s relationship with anxiety, validity of general trust measures, and trust’s prediction power for other behaviors, but little has been done to plot or explain fluctuations in trust over time despite this being reflective of critical attitudes towards others/society. This in-progress exploratory study uses General Social Survey (GSS) and World Values Survey (WVS) data from 1972-2022 to analyze trends in general trust for the US by individual characteristics and for the globe.

Preliminary results suggest majority identities report higher trust more often amid overall downward trends of similar rates in both the US and the world. This informs future approaches to fostering trust by identifying attention areas, opens doors for further study, and contributes to a wider discussion about data-informed decisions in psychology by questioning responses’ logical basis.