CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Media Distrust: Whose Confidence was Lost?

Hunter Pearl, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Matthew Levendusky

Date of this Version: 28 March 2018



The news media is among the least-trusted institutions in the nation, with only 41% of Americans reporting a great deal or fair amount of trust in it (Swift 2017). This is a major change from the highly trusted media of the mid-20 th Century, although historically this independent, powerful, and widely respected media establishment is an anomaly. To analyze the causes of media distrust over the last forty years, I have demographically broken down results from a question asked by the General Social Survey since 1972. I tested these results, isolated through a regression analysis, against my predictions of potential sources of media distrust. Among all the factors, only political factors – partisanship and political ideology – were substantially significant, while age and hours of TV watched showed weak significance. This did not clearly support any of my predictions but indicates the preeminence of politics as a determinant of media trust.


American Politics

Suggested Citation

Pearl, Hunter, "Media Distrust: Whose Confidence was Lost?" 28 March 2018. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 18 June 2018




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