You can trust us on this, but you probably won't: Americans are suspicious in daily encounters

Do you keep a close watch when you hand over your credit card?

Assume the other fellow on the road is texting or drunk?

Worry that a careless post will be spread by your Facebook friends?

If so, you’re not alone.

Americans are a mistrustful bunch.

Nearly two-thirds say you can’t be too careful in dealing with people, according to the General Social Survey, a massive survey of Americans conducted regularly since 1972 with funding from the National Science Foundation.

To find out more, an Associated Press-GfK poll asked Americans how much they trust others in everyday situations.



—78 per cent have little faith in people they meet while travelling, saying they trust them “just somewhat,” ”not too much” or “not at all.”

—19 per cent don’t worry — they feel “quite a bit” or “a great deal” of trust in people away from home.

Adults under 30 are especially wary of strangers, just like mom said.



—75 per cent mistrust people driving cars while they’re driving, biking or walking.

—21 per cent put a lot of faith in others behind the wheel.

Those 30 and under worry more about bad drivers than their elders do.



—67 per cent have little confidence in people who swipe their credit or debit card when they buy something.

—30 per cent don’t worry much about that.

Liberals are more laid back at the checkout than either conservatives or moderates.



—59 per cent don’t have much faith in people with whom they have shared photos, videos or information on social media.

—38 per cent have confidence in these “friends.”

Americans ages 50 and up worry the most about online sharing.



—55 per cent don’t much trust the people they hire to come into their homes to do work.

—41 per cent feel confident opening the door to them.

Gun owners worry less about inviting workers into their homes than other Americans do.



—50 per cent have little trust in the people who prepare their food when they eat out.

—About as many — 47 per cent — chow down with ease, however.

Wealthy Americans, with household incomes over $100,000, are less likely than most to fret about the restaurants where they dine.



—46 per cent have little confidence in people at the doctor’s office or hospital who have access to their medical records.

—But more — 50 per cent — don’t sweat it. Doctors and their staffs were the most trusted group in the poll.

People who oppose President Barack Obama’s health care law worry more about privacy at the doctor’s office than the law’s supporters do.



Just look at how little faith Americans have in their leaders.

Asked how much of the time they trust the government in Washington to do what is right, people say:

—81 per cent: only some of the time

—15 per cent: most of the time

—2 per cent: just about always


The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7, 2013 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, a probability-based Internet panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed for this survey online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.



AP-GfK Poll: