Does America Trust?

September 24, 2013, 5:47 PM GMT+0

Although trust varies by gender and age, most will take advantage of business errors when given the opportunity.

Last week, a temporary IT error at United Airlines resulted in tickets being available for free on their website. This prompted many to look at business practices as well as what would be "the right thing to do" for United customers. United ended up honoring the tickets for those lucky few that took advantage of the mistake.

This question of corporate versus personal trust prompted the latest YouGov research exploring American ideas about trust. The results suggest that women are less trusting of people in general than men are. When asked whether or not most people are trustworthy, only 26% of women said yes, compared to 40% of men. When asked more specifically about their perceptions of American honesty, 50% of men said that Americans were honest, while only 34% of women agreed.

Older people are less suspicious of others than younger people. When asked if people in general are usually trying to be helpful, or just looking out for themselves, older Americans tend to assume that others have better intentions than younger people. Only 30% of 18-29 year olds thought that most people try to be helpful, compared to 31% of 30-44 year olds, 47% of 45-64 year olds, and a majority (61%) of people aged 65 and up.

When asked whether you would take advantage of a company's error in your favor, the largest group (45%) said they would take advantage of such an error by confirming the deal and hoping the business honors the terms. 14% of Americans were slightly more forceful, saying they would take the deal and demand that the company honor the terms of the deal. 27% would avoid the deal and inform the company. There is, however, a notable divide along partisan lines - Republicans were less likely to confirm the deal under either scenario. 38% of Republicans say they would send a notice to the company informing them of the error, in contrast to 29% of Independents and only 19% of Democrats.

Overall, the data shows that while trust varies by group, corporations appear to have good reason to be cautious of their consumers.

Full results can be found here.

Image: Getty.

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