Special Report

Most and Least Trusted Institutions in America

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16. Small business
> Population with high-confidence in the institution: 75% of adults

A recent survey from public relations firm Edelman concluded that business is, globally, the most trusted institution in society. However, this Gallup poll suggests small businesses are carrying most of the weight of this trustworthiness while big businesses are among the least trusted institutions in the United States. Only small businesses and the military have a high-confidence level above 70% in this survey.

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15. The military
> Population with high-confidence in the institution: 72% of adults

Different surveys suggest a majority of Americans consider the U.S. military one of the most trustworthy institutions in the country. Last year, an online poll of more than 1,000 Americans by SafeHome.org, found that 70% of respondents trust U.S. soldiers more than judges and police. A poll of more than 2,500 people by the Reagan Institute earlier this year found 56% of Americans have a “great deal of trust and confidence” in the U.S. military.

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14. The medical system
> Population with high-confidence in the institution: 51% of adults

Many Americans may not trust the for-profit health insurance system through which most get access to medical care, but Gallup suggests a slight majority of adults consider the medical system itself to be trustworthy. A Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,000 adults in January 2019 found that 74% of respondents had a “mostly positive” overall view of medical doctors.

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13. The police
> Population with high-confidence in the institution: 48% of adults

Trust in law enforcement officers has one of the widest racial disparities in this Gallup poll, with 56% of non-Hispanic whites putting “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in police officers compared to just 19 percent for non-Hispanic blacks. Whites placed police in 3rd place among 16 institutions, while blacks ranked them in 13th place.

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12. The church or organized religion
> Population with high-confidence in the institution: 42% of adults

Religious institutions receive fairly high trustworthiness in this Gallup ranking, but there’s been a downward trend over the decades. In 1975, Gallup found that 68% of polled Americans had “great deal” or “a lot” of confidence in organized religion. That confidence fell below the majority level for the first time in 2002.