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Only about one in four Americans said that they had trust in the nation’s institutions in 2023 – with big business (one in seven), television news (one in seven) and Congress (one in 12) scraping the very bottom.

While institutional trust is decreasing, political polarization is increasing. The majority of Republicans (72%) and Democrats (64%) think of each other as more immoral than other Americans – a nearly 30% rise from 2016 to 2022. When compared with similar democracies, the United States has exhibited the largest increase in animus toward the opposing political party over the past 40 years.

When public trust and political consensus disappear, what remains?

Researchers don’t have all the answers, but it seems that even in the absence of public trust and agreement, people can share experiences. Whether watching a spelling bee or a football game, “we” still exist if we can witness it together.

Garriy Shteynberg, associate professor of psychology, examines the collective perspective theory. Read more about his findings at The Conversation.

UT is a member of The Conversation, an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.



Cindi King (865-974-0937,