In June of this year Reader’s Digest published a list of the 100 most trusted people in America today…sort of. They compiled a list of over 200 opinion shapers and headline makers from 15 highly influential professions and polled a nationally representative sample of 1,009 American adults, asking them to rank each person on a scale of 1 (not at all trustworthy) to 5 (extremely trustworthy) based on how highly they rated each person’s…
- Integrity and character
- Exceptional talent and drive for personal excellence
- Internal moral compass
I say “sort of” because Reader’s Digest started with a defined list of 200 people, so I’m sure that you, I, and about 313 million other Americans were excluded. Also, I’m not quite sure what “message” stands for as one of the variables being rated, and “leadership” can mean different things to different people, so without a definition of what those categories mean, it’s hard to put much stock in them. Regardless, the survey presented some fun and interesting perceptions about trust. Highlights of the survey included…
- Actor Tom Hanks (65%) was the most trusted individual, followed by Sandra Bullock (63%), Denzel Washington (62%), Meryl Streep 61%), and Maya Angelou rounding out the top five. See the complete list here.
- Americans trust people they know more than anyone famous. The three highest scores on the list were “your own doctor” (77%), “your own spiritual advisor” (71%), and “your child’s current teacher” (66%).
- “Doctor” topped the list as the most trusted profession, and doctors who appear on TV were rated more trustworthy than doctors who are best-selling authors.
- Judge Judy (51%) had the highest score of all the judges on the list, including all nine Supreme Court Justices. Boy, doesn’t that say a lot!?
- Movie stars were rated as one of the most trusted professions, although being the highest-paid doesn’t necessarily equate to being trusted. Kristen Stewart, star of the Twilight movies and the highest paid actress in 2012, received the lowest score (24%) among female movie stars.
- Americans trust altruistic people and professions, as shown by doctors, educators, and philanthropists scoring among the top five professions, and Maya Angelou, best-selling author, poet, and American Studies professor at Wake Forest, coming in at number 5 on the list.
- Michelle Obama (53%), rated more trustworthy than her husband, President Obama (45%), Hillary Clinton (47%), and Colin Powell (50%).
I don’t put a tremendous amount of faith in surveys like this because I think our society tends to engage in too much hero-worship of the rich and famous, but it’s interesting to see how perceptions shape our views of other people’s trustworthiness.
What’s your perception of this survey? Do you think the six categories used by Reader’s Digest are the best indicators of a person’s trustworthiness? Feel free to leave a comment.