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2022 Trusted Messengers Study

When concerns around misinformation and fake news are at an all-time high, who do Americans turn to as messengers of real, unbiased, trustworthy information? How do those messengers change as individuals move through a journey of awareness to information gathering to remaining informed or taking action?

Intro text

The Trusted Messenger Study was designed to identify the messengers Americans trust to become aware of, informed about and incite personal action on key social issues. This study aims to better inform brands, causes and civic groups working to educate and inspire the American public at all levels on these topics.

This study is an ongoing, annual exploration, which began in 2021 (see the full report here). Now in its second year, the 2022 study sought to update this information amid the current climate as well as dig deeper into the trusted messengers beyond one’s inner circle (friends and family).

In 2022, ACRI conducted a mixed-methods research study to:
  • Identify the trusted messengers at each level of the Trusted Messenger Ecosystem (generate awareness, provide information/further inform and make decisions) for advice & opinions on social issues, in general and for six specific current topics/issues.
    • 2022 topics included: voting & democracy, health & wellness, mental health, racial equity & justice, climate change and addiction.
  • Understand what makes these messengers trusted for their advice or opinions.
  • Pinpoint the specific trusted messengers that spark action for a particular issue.

As noted previously, this study differs from others in that it does not seek to survey the public on trusted news sources, or on the validity of the information being shared. This study specifically looks at the messenger of such information, and if/why that person is believed to be trustworthy.

So when it comes to understanding and taking action for key social issues, who do Americans deem trustworthy—particularly beyond their inner circle—and why? Who should brands and causes leverage to reach, inform and inspire Americans to take action? How do trusted messengers vary by social issue or by demographic categories (such as generation and political affiliation)?

Key Data Points

Who Do Americans Trust For Information?

2022 Trusted Messengers Study is now available.

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