Poll: Americans Lack Confidence in Public Leaders

(CN) – The American public does not have much confidence in many individuals who hold positions of power or public responsibility in the country, including members of Congress, journalists and leaders of technology companies – especially when it comes to their ability to admit fault – the Pew Research Center reported Thursday. 

In a survey of 10,618 adults conducted between Nov. 27, 2018 to Dec. 10, 2018, but just released Thursday, researchers found that 81% of Americans believe that members of Congress act unethically all or most of the time, 77% believe leaders in technology companies act unethically, and 69% believe religious leaders act unethically. 

Military leaders polled the most favorably in this category, but 50% of those polled believe that military leaders act unethically.

In tandem with the public’s demonstrated expectations toward public, private and cultural leaders, many believe that this unethical behavior does not lead to serious consequences.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that members of Congress infrequently – if ever – receive serious consequences for wrongdoing. 

Majorities of those surveyed think that most of the groups they were asked about – including technology company leaders, journalists, religious leaders, local elected officials and police officers – rarely receive consequences for wrongdoing, if at all. 

The public’s low level of confidence in those with power and influence parallel’s Americans’ lack of confidence in those leaders’ abilities to admit fault and take responsibility. Forty-four percent of Americans believe that legislators rarely admit fault and 36% believe that legislators never admit fault.

Similarly majorities think that local elected officials (57%), technology company leaders (55%) and journalists (54%) rarely admit fault, if ever.

Military leaders and school principals scored the most favorable on the responsibility question, with 57% of respondents saying these groups do usually admit fault.

Overall, the public has confidence in military leaders’ ability to do their jobs and fulfill key aspects of their respective roles. Military leaders were viewed as the most effective in their role with 56% of respondents saying they fulfilled key directives and 34% who said they did so at least some of the time.

Members of Congress scored the worst on this question. Forty-three percent of respondents said that legislators fulfill key aspects of their job some of the time and only 4% said they do so all or most of the time.

Overall, the majority of the public indicated they expect to see unethical behavior among those in positions of influence and power. While most of the survey respondents said that these leaders and institutions had the ability to demonstrate professional competence overall, a lack of trust in their ability to take responsibility for wrongdoing hampers the public’s confidence.

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