For Some Industries, People Are More Likely to Believe Bad Than Good News

August 9, 2022

Industries that tend to have worse reputations than others are more likely to suffer a greater impact from misinformation, according to survey results from Ipsos. Indeed, respondents to the Ipsos’ survey are more likely to believe negative news about companies in sectors such as social media and pharmaceuticals than they are to believe positive news about companies in those industries.

The online survey asked 1,120 US adults ages 18-65 their likelihood to believe positive or negative news that they saw, read, or head about companies in various industries. Respondents were least likely to say they would believe positive news about social media companies, with just 34% saying as such. By comparison, 54% would be likely to believe negative news about social media companies, the highest rate of the 11 industries measured. Perhaps not so coincidentally, social media companies have been found to have awful reputations.

By contrast, tech hardware companies tend to have more positive reputations than service companies, and the Ipsos survey finds people more likely to believe positive news (51%) than negative news (46%) or information about companies in the tech sector.

Meanwhile, other industries for which respondents are more likely to believe bad than good news about a company include airlines (51% and 45%, respectively), pharmaceuticals (49% and 40%, respectively), mining, oil and gas (48% and 38%, respectively), and finance (47% and 43%, respectively).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the food and beverage industry is the one for which the largest share of respondents will believe good news about a company (55%), with half also likely to believe positive news about a company in the retail sector (50%).

In each of the industries, more than 4 in 10 respondents would be likely to believe negative stories about companies within them, such that Ipsos notes that “all businesses face some potential for harm as a result of misinformation spread about them.”

Another industry that should be on alert is the media industry, due to poor confidence ratings. In a separate survey of 1,150 US adults, Gallup reveals that only 16% of respondents have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers, down from 21% last year and representing the lowest figure on record, stretching back 50 years. (The previous high – and the only time a majority expressed a high level of confidence – was in 1979, when 51% did.)

In fact, the share of adults who have “very little” or “no” confidence in newspapers is about triple the share that express a “great deal” or “quite a lot” (46% and 16%, respectively) of confidence.

TV news fares even worse: a paltry 11% this year say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in TV news, down from 16% last year, and eclipsed by the the majority (53%) who now have “very little” or “no” confidence in TV news.

One might expect as a result that people will be more likely to believe negative than positive stories about news businesses….

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