A collision of trust, innovation, and politics

Globally, The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a new paradox at the heart of society. Rapid innovation offers the promise of a new era of prosperity, but instead risks exacerbating trust issues, leading to further societal instability and political polarisation.

In a year where half the global population can vote in new leaders, the acceptance of innovation is essential to the success of our society. While people agree that scientists are essential to the acceptance of innovation, many are concerned that politics has too much influence on science. This perception is contributing to the decline of trust in the institutions responsible for steering us through change and towards a more prosperous future.

In Australia, no single institution has succeeded in reaching trusted territory for another consecutive year.

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A Shift in Authority

More than half (59%) of Australian respondents concerned our leaders here are purposefully misleading us. Peers are on par with scientists in terms of who Australians trust to tell the truth about new innovations and technologies.

 

Politicisation of Innovation

Respondents see science as under political pressure and 64% of Australians say Government lacks adequate understanding to regulate emerging innovations effectively. Strong leadership is needed to move society towards acceptance.

 

 

A reset for science in society

Science has a communications problem that can be improved with better messaging, more transparency, and an explanation of its impact on regular people. Australians want technical experts (69%) and scientists (67%) to lead on implementation of innovation.

 

Restoring trust in the promise of innovation

Australians are more likely to embrace an innovation if they are confident that it will lead to a better future.         
 

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Business is only institution not distrusted to make sure innovations are safe, understood & accessible

Of the four institutions, none are trusted to integrate innovation into society, but business comes out ahead of the other three institutions (53% trust). There is an outright distrust in media.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2024    
 
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Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 
 

 

Acceptance of innovation is at stake

Australians are second most likely (only behind the U.S) to believe innovation is being mismanaged – and this concern is shared across income, gender and age. Those with this mindset are highly likely to believe that society is changing too quickly and is happening in ways that will not benefit ‘people like me’ (73%).

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4 Ways to Restore Trust in the Promise of Innovation

 

1. Implementation is as important as invention

Mismanaged innovations are as likely to ignite backlash as advance society. With breakthroughs like AI, vaccines, and green energy on the line, explaining the science and managing impacts is essential.     
 

 

 

2. Business must partner for change

Business would be more trusted with technology-led changes if it partnered with government. CEOs need to safeguard jobs and take a stand on emerging ethical concerns.   
 

 

3. Science must integrate with society

Scientists are still trusted—but increasingly subject to public scrutiny. To build trust in expert recommendations, explain the research, engage in dialogue, and harness peer voices as advocates.    
 

 

4. Give me control over my future

When people feel in control over how innovations affect their lives, they are more likely to embrace them, not resist them. Listen for concerns, be open to questions.    
 

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The Trust 10

01

Peers on par with scientists 

01

In Australia, 73 percent say they trust someone like me to tell the truth about innovations, and 71 percent trust scientists. CEOs and Journalists are distrusted in Australia.

02

A nation of sceptics  

02

Australia remains a comparatively sceptical market in terms of the Trust Index (the avg. trust in the four major institutions) especially compared to our APAC neighbours. No single institution has succeeded in reaching trusted territory for another consecutive year.

03

Battle for truth continues  

03

59% of Australian worry government, business leaders, journalists & reporters are purposely trying to mislead people.

 

 

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What does this mean for your business? 

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Methodology       
The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 24th annual survey. The research was produced by the Edelman Trust Institute and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between November 3 and November 22, 2023. Learn more >

28       
Countries 

32,000       
Respondents

±1,150       
Respondents / Country