Monday, January 19, 2015

Presbyterians Are Optimistic Trusters

I am analyzing new data from the Presbyterian Panel, a survey of Presbyterian Church (USA) members and leaders.

One comparison I am interested in is with an important baseline table from the 1972 American National Election Survey.  That survey's table crossed the "are you an optimist or a pessimist?" question with the "do you think most people can be trusted?" question.

I am interested in this issue, because I think trusters, especially optimistic trusters, are the people most likely to undertake Tocquevillian projects of community improvement.

The result:

Proportions of Americans (from the American National Election Survey 1972):

Optimistic Trusters: 35%
Pessimistic Trusters: 13
Optimistic Mistrusters: 30
Pessimistic Mistrusters: 23

Proportion of Presbyterian members (from the Presbyterian Panel 2014):

Optimistic Trusters: 65%
Pessimistic Trusters: <1
Optimistic Mistrusters: 26
Pessimistic Mistrusters: 9


dennistheeremite said...

I wonder what the results of the survey would be for evangelicals in general, pentecostals, non-denominational, Catholic, or other religious groups.

Gruntled said...

I can't tell from this data set, but I will be looking for others.

I think, from other work on trust, that people active in mainline churches are likely to be optimistic trusters and volunteers.

Mac said...

For those of us who were pessimistic doubters in the PC(USA) and have now found a trustworthy home in the EPC, the change is remarkable. Optimistic
trust is a blessing. The departure of so many from the PC(USA) over the past 8 years may also explain the low numbers of doubters in the 2014 PC(USA) study.

Gruntled said...

Liberals tend to be pessimists - even when they are confident that history is on their side.