Would you be surprised to know the British are among the most trusting people of 24 nationalities? We trust people from different countries, people we meet for the first time, and people we know personally, according to a new study of attitudes across two dozen major countries.
We rank second for trust in foreigners, with such trust now at a record high following a rise over recent decades. We also rank third for trust in people we meet for the first time, and joint top for trust in people we know personally.
The belief that “most people can be trusted” is now at a record high with the UK ranking among the highest internationally.
The latest UK data was collected in 2022, with data for other nations collected at various points between 2017 and 2022.
Behind only Sweden (91%), and on a par with Norway, 84% of the UK public said they trusted people of another nationality among the 24 countries included in the research.
Britain ranked third behind Sweden (74%) and Norway (68%) with 52% of the UK public saying they trust people they meet for the first time. People in the South West (65%) and South (64%) were most trusting of people they meet for the first time.
Joint top out of 24 countries with Sweden and Norway, 98% of the UK population said they trust people they know personally.
And, of the nations surveyed, only five are now more likely than the UK to say most people can be trusted, with Norway (72%), China (64%) and Sweden (63%) the only countries where a majority feel this way.
In the most recent data, Gen Z are least likely to share this feeling – only a third (34%) think most people can be trusted, compared with over half of baby boomers (54%) and even more of those born pre-1945 (56%).
David Halpern, chief executive of the Behavioural Insights Team, said: “Social trust – having trust in your fellow citizens – is a social and economic ‘wonder drug’.
“It boosts growth, health and wellbeing, educational attainment, and even the performance of government.
“So the rise in social trust in the UK to its highest level in more than 40 years is a big deal.
“Remarkably, it seems to have risen despite Covid – maybe even because of it – perhaps reflecting the experience of neighbours and friends helping each other out.”