Americans Less Likely to Say 18 of 19 Industries are Honest and Trustworthy This Year

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – December 12, 2013 – For the past decade The Harris Poll has measured the percentage of Americans who perceive 19 large industries as generally honest and trustworthy. This year, this perception has dropped for 18 of the 19 industries, as overall U.S. adults seem to have lost trust in most of corporate America. And, the only one that did not drop is tobacco companies, as just 3% of Americans say they normally would believe a statement from someone in that industry – same as it’s been for the past few years. At the other end of the spectrum, the most trusted industries are supermarkets – where three in ten (30%) say this industry is generally honest and trustworthy – and hospitals (28%). These are both down 8 points from last year.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,250 adults surveyed online between November 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    When asked which industries are generally honest and trustworthy so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry, over two in five Americans (42%) reply none of these – an increase from last year, when 36% indicated the same. After tobacco companies, the industries that are least trusted are oil companies (4%), social media (6%), managed care (6%), telecom (7%), health insurance (7%). Just one in ten say they think packaged food companies (11%), airlines (11%), car manufacturers (11%), pharma and drug companies (10%), and life insurance companies (10%) are generally honest and trustworthy.

    The industries trusted by the highest percentages of Americans after supermarkets and hospitals are online search engines (18%), banks (18%), computer hardware companies (17%), online retailers (15%), electric and gas utilities (14%) and computer software companies (13%). The biggest changes since last year on this question are the 8-point drops for supermarkets and hospitals, a 7 point drop for computer software companies and a 6 point drop for electric and gas utilities. Over the past decade, the biggest drops are 17 points for banks and 12 points for packaged food companies.

    This series also asks which of the 19 industries should be more regulated by government, and three in ten Americans select none of these (29%). The industries that the largest percentages of U.S. adults would like to see more regulated are oil (41%), pharmaceuticals (39%), tobacco (35%), health insurance (34%), banks (31%), electric and gas utilities (24%), packaged food companies (24%) and managed care companies such as HMOs (24%). Few U.S. adults (less than 10%) want to see more regulation of computer hardware and software companies (6% each), online search engines (7%), online retailers (7%) or supermarkets (9%). The biggest changes from last year are drops of 7 points in those who would like to see more regulation of electric and gas utilities and drops of 6 points each for those who would like to see more regulation of managed care companies, life insurance companies and health insurance companies.

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    TABLE 1

    INDUSTRIES THAT ARE GENERALLY HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY – TREND

    Which of these industries do you think are generally honest and trustworthy – so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry?

    Base: All U.S. adults

     

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2012

    2013

    CHANGES

    2012-

    2013

    2003-

    2013

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Supermarkets

    40

    42

    39

    34

    32

    30

    36

    29

    31

    38

    30

    -8

    -10

    Hospitals

    34

    35

    34

    28

    28

    31

    28

    29

    29

    36

    28

    -8

    -6

    Online search engines

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    21

    22

    18

    -4

    n/a

    Banks

    35

    40

    34

    31

    30

    21

    12

    20

    12

    20

    18

    -2

    -17

    Computer hardware companies

    27

    29

    27

    20

    18

    17

    23

    16

    22

    20

    17

    -3

    -10

    Online retailers

    n/a

    n/a

    16

    11

    10

    10

    16

    12

    16

    16

    15

    -1

    n/a

    Electric and gas utilities

    n/a

    n/a

    14

    14

    15

    16

    16

    19

    16

    20

    14

    -6

    n/a

    Computer software companies

    22

    25

    22

    23

    17

    16

    20

    15

    20

    20

    13

    -7

    -9

    Packaged food companies

    23

    23

    21

    14

    12

    13

    16

    11

    14

    16

    11

    -5

    -12

    Airlines

    20

    22

    17

    16

    11

    11

    10

    12

    9

    12

    11

    -1

    -9

    Car manufacturers

    14

    18

    13

    9

    11

    10

    8

    8

    12

    12

    11

    -1

    -3

    Life insurance companies

    11

    15

    10

    11

    10

    9

    10

    10

    11

    12

    10

    -2

    -1

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    13

    14

    9

    7

    11

    10

    9

    11

    8

    12

    10

    -2

    -3

    Health insurance companies

    7

    9

    9

    7

    7

    7

    7

    8

    8

    11

    7

    -4

    0

    Telecommunication companies

    12

    13

    11

    10

    10

    9

    10

    7

    8

    9

    7

    -2

    -5

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    4

    5

    5

    4

    5

    5

    5

    7

    7

    9

    6

    -3

    +2

    Social media companies

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    8

    8

    6

    -2

    n/a

    Oil companies

    4

    4

    3

    3

    3

    4

    5

    4

    6

    6

    4

    -2

    0

    Tobacco companies

    3

    4

    4

    2

    3

    2

    3

    2

    3

    3

    3

    0

    0

    None of these

    37

    32

    37

    40

    44

    44

    44

    48

    43

    36

    42

    +6

    +5

    Note: Multiple-response question; n/a = industry not asked about that year

     

    TABLE 2

    INDUSTRIES THAT SHOULD BE MORE REGULATED – TREND

    Which of these industries do you think should be more regulated by government – for example for health, safety or environmental reasons – than they are now?

    Base: All U.S. adults

     

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2012

    2013

    CHANGES

    2012-

    2013

    2003-

    2013

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Oil companies

    52

    48

    55

    54

    53

    53

    47

    47

    44

    45

    41

    -4

    -11

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    57

    55

    51

    48

    53

    49

    47

    46

    42

    43

    39

    -4

    -18

    Tobacco companies

    44

    42

    36

    38

    41

    31

    33

    38

    33

    34

    35

    +1

    -9

    Health insurance companies

    59

    56

    46

    48

    52

    49

    45

    42

    40

    40

    34

    -6

    -25

    Banks

    21

    20

    19

    17

    20

    36

    40

    34

    39

    34

    31

    -3

    +10

    Electric and gas utilities

    n/a

    n/a

    43

    38

    41

    34

    32

    33

    33

    31

    24

    -7

    n/a

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    60

    55

    43

    41

    45

    39

    36

    34

    31

    30

    24

    -6

    -36

    Packaged food companies

    26

    24

    17

    19

    30

    20

    20

    24

    21

    22

    24

    +2

    -2

    Hospitals

    35

    35

    28

    28

    33

    27

    25

    25

    22

    25

    22

    -3

    -13

    Airlines

    31

    27

    26

    21

    30

    23

    23

    27

    25

    25

    21

    -4

    -10

    Life insurance companies

    35

    34

    26

    24

    28

    25

    27

    27

    23

    26

    20

    -6

    -15

    Telecommunication companies

    30

    31

    26

    23

    25

    19

    20

    23

    21

    20

    17

    -3

    -13

    Car manufacturers

    24

    24

    24

    19

    22

    16

    21

    26

    14

    17

    15

    -2

    -9

    Social media companies

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    9

    12

    15

    +3

    n/a

    Supermarkets

    10

    8

    6

    6

    9

    6

    5

    8

    7

    8

    9

    +1

    -1

    Online retailers

    n/a

    n/a

    14

    13

    13

    9

    10

    12

    8

    9

    7

    -2

    n/a

    Online search engines

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    6

    8

    7

    -1

    n/a

    Computer software companies

    11

    9

    8

    7

    9

    6

    6

    9

    5

    6

    6

    0

    -5

    Computer hardware companies

    8

    8

    7

    7

    9

    5

    5

    9

    5

    5

    6

    +1

    -2

    None of these

    20

    20

    25

    23

    19

    22

    28

    30

    35

    31

    29

    -2

    +9

    Note: Multiple-response question; n/a = industry not asked about that year

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J43568

    Q955, 960

    The Harris Poll® #96, December 12, 2013

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations

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