National study finds elderly more trusting than younger Americans, but local results differ
Matthew Thigpen says he tends to be more guarded, but also gives people the benefit of the doubt.
Maverick Thigpen says he, personally, feels he can trust people and they’re not out to get him.
Hannah Asfeldt says that, for her, trust depends on the person.
“I find myself trusting young people a lot, and I have a general, pretty good sense of someone when I meet them what their end goal is, I guess” Asfeldt said. “I don’t think I’m not trusting of people, it’s more of like wanting to protect myself versus not trusting other people. It’s much more of an internal thing versus an external thing.”
The three are all younger than 30 years old, the same demographic for which a study by the Pew Research Center found are less trusting of other people than their elders.
Out of 10,618 adults, the study found that out of those in the 18 to 29 demographic, 73% said that most of the time, people just look out for themselves, 71% said that most people would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance and 60% said most people can’t be trusted.
“All told, nearly half of young adults (46%) are what the Center’s report defines as ‘low trusters’ – people who, compared with other Americans, are more likely to see others as selfish, exploitative and untrustworthy, rather than helpful, fair and trustworthy,” the study said. “Older Americans are less likely to be low trusters.”
The study found that of Americans in the 65 and older demographic, 48% said that most of the time people just look out for themselves, 39% said that most people would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance and 29% said that most people can’t be trusted.
However, a visit to the Chino Valley Senior Center showed that the elderly in the area are in the minority of what the study finds.
While chatting with others in the Chino Valley Senior Center, Gracia Heard said that 20 years ago, it was easier to trust people but it’s getting harder because times have changed. Bill Kountanis said he has some trust in others because of the same reason.
“You have to be guarded in this day and age. Years ago, you never had to, you’d just take people as they were,” Kountanis said. “Not now.”
Phil Posante also said he’s less trusting, citing the large amount of robocalls that are directed toward the older generation. Barbara Wright also said she’s pretty skeptical about everything, noting that about 70 percent of the calls she gets are scams.
The same study also found that younger Americans are less confident in certain key institutions. In the 18-to-29 demographic, 69% said they have confidence in the military, 50% said they have confidence in religious leaders, 67% said they have confidence in police officers and 34% said they have confidence in elected officials and business leaders. Of those who are 50 and older, the study found that 91% said they have confidence in the military, 71% said they have confidence in religious leaders, 85% said they have confidence in police officers, 50% said they have confidence in business leaders and 38% said they have confidence in elected officials.
Wright said she doesn’t know what it would take for those institutions to gain the confidence of the younger generation.
“I think the older generation maybe trusts them because we grew up in an era where there was more trust,” she said.
Back then, she said, there wasn’t as much meanness as there is now, but these days everything makes you take a second look.
Matthew Thigpen said that for those institutions to gain the confidence of his generation, they should try to appeal to them instead of saying everything they do is bad and wrong. They need to accept that the younger generation is not the same as them and that times are changing. Asfeldt also had some suggestions.
“Maybe not be money-driven and not be all about indoctrinating people to believe the same thing,” she said. “Maybe encourage differing opinions, conversing together instead of shoving what they believe down other people’s throats and then being about arguing when someone says anything different.”