Gen Z does not trust institutions, poll finds

Sep 26, 2023, 9:13 AM | Updated: 11:16 am

FILE - The White House, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)Cred...

FILE - The White House, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new poll from Gallup revealed that Gen Z has very little trust in the government, as well as other institutions. 

Sam Abrams, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of politics and social science at Sarah Lawrence College said it is not surprising. 

“I think the reason for this is that they’ve grown up in a period of incredible polarization, incredible dysfunction,” said Abrams. 

Gen Z, short for Generation Z is comprised of those born between 1997 and 2012, according to USA Today

Members of the generation don’t remember what a small government or a good government can do, according to Abrams. Gen Z sees “the lumbering government, they see the dysfunctional government, they see anger, [and] they see inefficiency.” 

Abrams said that Gen Z-ers dislike the inefficiency and polarization of the modern American government. Furthermore, Abrams said, “they don’t know what it’s like to see a government that’s hopeful, that promotes the individual, that promotes business.” 

Gen Z trusts science

In contrast with their distrust in institutions, Gen Zers have a great trust in science. Abrams said that he has noted a preference for reason among the college students he teaches. Many college students in America right now belong to Gen Z. 

“[Science is] one of the few things they do trust … because they say ‘look there’s proof,'” Abrams said. 

They like the idea of scientific reason, however, it gets muddled when the science is politicized, said Abrams. 

Decline of institutions

“[Gen Z has] a very arm’s length relationship with institutions,” Abrams said. They have grown up in a time where family and church, among other institutions, have declined. 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a shift in institutions occurred. Instead of teaching members their values, institutions began sending money to various groups. 

“It’s performative … we pay money to various groups to say ‘this is what we believe in’ and then they lobby for us and … sort of express our values, but they don’t help us shape our values,” said Abrams of the institutional shifts. 

Abrams said to Gen Z, institutions are “amorphous things in the distance.” There is a lack of community, and they are the “loneliest group of Americans.” 

Community and institutions need to be rebuilt, according to Abrams. That begins with leaders who promote civility and unity. 

Leaders who actually lead, instead of performatively doing so, are the key to rebuilding institutions, Abrams

“With the right leadership, I’m hoping institutions can be rebuilt,” said Abrams. 

Related reading: 


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Inside Sources

A customer checks prices while shopping at a grocery store in Wheeling, Ill., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024...

Curt Gresseth

Inflation eases but grocery store prices in Utah still stinging

Inflation eases slightly in April, but in Utah, consumers are still feeling the pinch of grocery-store prices.

3 days ago

utah valley university sign pictured, uvu freshman housing now available for first time...

Simone Seikaly

‘Don’t listen to the nos’ UVU commencement speaker tells students

UVU grads were just as inspiring to speaker Jamie Kern Lima as she hoped to be for them, she said of her 2024 commencement speech.

15 days ago

a person holds a smartphone, is the us moving away from organized religion?...

Isabella Sandston

LISTEN: Why we’re turning to politics for our lost worship

Is a shift away from organized religion feeding into the loss of community amongst Americans?

1 month ago

A green and brown sign hangs on a brick wall. It reads "The future of the world is in this classroo...

Mariah Maynes

Study looks into Utah voters’ opinions on curriculum transparency in schools

A Sutherland Institute study found that a majority of Utah voters support curriculum transparency. However, fewer of them support mandating it with legislation. 

2 months ago

Mitt Romney shown...

Sam Herrera

LISTEN: Romney talks budget, wildfires and TikTok

Sen. Mitt Romney says Democrats and Republicans needed to work together to budget and build legislation that will actually pass.

2 months ago

Utah Rep. John Curtis discusses how a “stunt” by TikTok to influence House lawmakers just anger...

KSL NewsRadio

TikTok ‘stunt’ backfires as House lawmakers push to change company ownership

Utah Rep. John Curtis discusses how a “stunt” by TikTok to influence House lawmakers just angered them.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Gen Z does not trust institutions, poll finds