Americans With Higher Job Satisfaction More Likely to Trust in Government, New Study Finds

by TK Sanders

Are you someone who likes what you do for a living? If so, then researchers think you are also someone who is more likely to trust the government. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health discovered the strong correlation between job satisfaction and trust in government while examining the attitudes of the most satisfied people. Researchers were initially examining attitudes during a crisis but discovered the pertinent data outside of their parameters.

At a glance

  • There is a correlation between job satisfaction and trust in government
  • Those who trust in the government are more likely to enjoy their jobs and co-workers
  • Trust in government means trust that someone has good intentions
  • In science, correlation does not always mean causation

They discovered that people with high levels of trust in their governments also largely felt feelings of job security, trust in their employers, and appreciation for their co-workers.

“It may come down to what it means psychologically to be able to trust in entities other than yourself, whether that’s the federal or state government, your organization or your supervisor,” study co-author and Washington State University professor Tahira Probst said.

“It’s these internalized beliefs that another entity cares about my well-being and has good intentions. That kind of trust is crucial to facilitating relationships with other individuals and organizations.” 

Researchers tried to eliminate the political variable from the equation by asking participants not to reveal their leanings. But since people associate much of their trust in government based on which party currently occupies the White House, researchers admit that a certain implicit bias could occur.

The correlative connection between job satisfaction and government trust was prevalent in about a quarter of participants

To distinguish levels of trust, researchers had to categorize the responses into different, varying “amounts” of trust expressed by the participants. The first group, 26.5 percent of respondents, scored high on the trust scale. These are the participants who express a great deal of trust in both state and federal government institutions. This group, researchers also noted, registered greater compliance with CDC COVID-19 guidance and rules.

The next largest group, 25.7 percent of respondents, said they trusted their state government but not federal entities. Interestingly enough, just 2.3 percent of respondents said that they trust the federal government, but that they distrust their state government.

The remaining approximately 45 percent of respondents said they either distrusted both state and federal governments, or felt ambivalent about the entire situation. This final group almost split perfectly down the middle between those two last opinions.

“We found that people can have different trusting profiles. So they either felt they can trust the federal government; but not the state or vice versa,” said study lead author Lixin Jiang. 

“The best-case scenario was when people trusted both types of government.”

Remember, though, in science, correlation does not always infer causation. Any study of this kind should be noted and appreciated; but not considered a perfect representation of the aspect of the human psyche that it means to explore. Also, research of this nature is typically funded by organizations (or companies) with a vested interest in a specific result. If the findings of a study matter to you, always be sure to investigate both the administering scientists and their sources of funding.