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The following table appears in the book Stories that Sell that a friend of ours (Casey Hibbard, success-story guru) is about to publish. The result of surveys by the University of Massachusetts in 1997 and Bridge Ratings in 2007, it illustrates a shift in how people value information from various sources when considering what products or services to buy. The results have meaning for website owners.

The really interesting part of these results for website owners is the jump from a rating of 4.2 to 7.9 for the trust we place in "strangers with experience," behind only friends, family and acquaintances, and ahead of teachers and religious leaders. This is almost certainly due to people’s experience with recommendations on Amazon.com, NetFlix, and similar website ratings. Bloggers are not ranked very high in general, but we know people who have great trust in blogs that they follow. It may be like people’s low opinions of congress: they’re all crooks, except our congressman.

Trusted Sources of Information according to US Consumers 1997 & 2007
(rated on a scale of 1-10)

  1997 University of Massachusetts Survey 2007 Bridge Ratings Survey
Friends, family and acquaintances 8.8 8.6
Strangers with experience 4.2 7.9
Teachers 9.2 7.3
Religious leaders 9.0 6.9
Newspapers and magazines 8.1 6.1
Favorite radio personality 6.8 5.5
TV news reporters 7.5 5.2
Bloggers * 2.8
Advertising 3.3 2.2
Telemearketers 2.1 1.8
Note: 2007 n=3,400 ages 13+; in both surveys, respondents were asked this question, “Please rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the following as sources of information you most trust”
*not asked in the 1997 survey
Source: Bridge Ratings and the University of Massachusetts as cited in press release, August 1, 2007
086253 Published by www.eMarketer.com
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One Response to What Information Do We Trust?

  1. Yeah, it’s really interesting how this has changed in 10 years. Funny how we trust strangers more, and teachers and religious leaders less. I should have titled my book something about trusting strangers!

    Thanks!