Americans Less Likely to Say 18 of 19 Industries are Honest and Trustworthy This Year

More than one-third of Americans want to see oil, pharma, tobacco and health insurance companies more regulated

Dec 12, 2013, 13:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the past decade, The Harris Poll has measured the percentage of Americans who perceive 19 large industries as "generally honest and trustworthy." This year, this perception has dropped for 18 of the 19 industries, as overall U.S. adults seem to have lost trust in most of corporate America. And, the only one that did not drop is tobacco companies, as just 3% of Americans say they normally would believe a statement from someone  in that industry – same as it's been for the past few years. At the other end of the spectrum, the most trusted industries are supermarkets – where three in ten (30%) say this industry is generally honest and trustworthy – and hospitals (28%). These are both down 8 points from last year.  

(Logo: )

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,250 adults surveyed online between November 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables and comprehensive industries list, available here)

When asked which industries are generally honest and trustworthy so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry, over two in five Americans (42%) reply "none of these" – an increase from last year, when 36% indicated the same.  After tobacco companies, the industries that are least trusted are oil companies (4%), social media (6%), managed care (6%), telecom (7%), health insurance (7%).  Just one in ten say they think packaged food companies (11%), airlines (11%), car manufacturers (11%), pharma and drug companies (10%), and life insurance companies (10%) are generally honest and trustworthy.

The industries trusted by the highest percentages of Americans after supermarkets and hospitals are online search engines (18%), banks (18%), computer hardware companies (17%), online retailers (15%), electric and gas utilities (14%) and computer software companies (13%).  The biggest changes since last year on this question are the 8-point drops for supermarkets and hospitals, a 7 point drop for computer software companies and a 6 point drop for electric and gas utilities. Over the past decade, the biggest drops are 17 points for banks and 12 points for packaged food companies.

This series also asks which of the 19 industries should be more regulated by government, and three in ten Americans select "none of these" (29%).  The industries that the largest percentages of U.S. adults would like to see more regulated are oil (41%), pharmaceuticals (39%), tobacco (35%), health insurance (34%), banks (31%), electric and gas utilities (24%), packaged food companies (24%) and managed care companies such as HMOs (24%).  Few U.S. adults (less than 10%) want to see more regulation of computer hardware and software companies (6% each), online search engines (7%), online retailers (7%) or supermarkets (9%).  The biggest changes from last year are drops of 7 points in those who would like to see more regulation of electric and gas utilities and drops of 6 points each for those who would like to see more regulation of managed care companies, life insurance companies and health insurance companies.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q955, 960

The Harris Poll® #96, December 12, 2013  
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations

About Harris Interactive  
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive

SOURCE Harris Interactive