Here at Trajectory, we have been closely monitoring consumer sentiment through our monthly Optimism Index data since 2018. One of the key trends emerging in the data is the link between trust and nostalgia. Our analysis shows that respondents that have lower levels of trust in the media, politicians and businesses are significantly more likely to feel nostalgic, saying that life is worse today than it was 50 years ago.

Trajectory Optimism Index Waves 1-21 Combined

The chart above divides British consumers into four groups;

  • Universally Trusting: consumers with a high level of trust in all areas (media, politicians and business) – 7% of consumers
  • Moderate Trust: consumers that do not trust all sources, but are generally more trusting than untrusting – 34% of consumers
  • Low Trust: consumers that are generally untrusting, but might have higher levels of trust in some sources – 45% of consumers
  • Universally Untrusting: consumers with a low level of trust in all sources – 14% of consumers

Over half of respondents with the highest level of trust say that their life is better than it was 50 years ago and over half of those with the lowest trust say that their life is worse. This demonstrates that trust is an important contributing factor in determining how nostalgic they feel and therefore also influential in shaping how they view their lives today. Additionally, regression analysis suggests that trust is a stronger indicator of nostalgia than anything else.

The idea that trust holds a considerable influence over our outlook is further enhanced by the impact it has on levels of economic confidence, both at a household and economy-wide level. Our Optimism Index data shows that those with the highest levels of trust hold much higher confidence in both their own finances and in the UK economy as a whole.

Trajectory Optimism Index Waves 1-21 Combined

It is hard to underestimate the impact that trust has on other aspects of our lives. Our data has also shown that trust across a variety of categories has stagnated and, in many cases, decreased since the beginning of last year, with particularly sharp drops having occurred in the last month.

If levels of trust continue to plummet, individuals are likely to experience a continued loss in optimism and autonomy while growing more nostalgic of a supposed bygone era in which they could trust politicians, businesses and the media.

These issues were discussed in greater depth at our most recent Trends Breakfast on trust, information and the currency of facts. Find out more here.