Yariv Tsfati and Gal Ariely: Individual and Contextual Correlates of Trust in Media Across 44 Countries

Tsfati, Y., & Ariely, G. (2013). Individual and Contextual Correlates of Trust in Media Across 44 CountriesCommunication Research.

Yariv Tsfati is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication. Gal Ariely is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics & Government at Ben-Gurion University.


Media research demonstrates that audience trust in the news media is a highly consequential factor, shaping audience selection of and response to media, and potentially impacting citizens’ perceptions of the political system at large. Still, our knowledge about the correlates of trust in media is limited. Only a few studies have utilized a correlational design to explore the associations between trust in media and other factors, and almost all of these studies originate in the U.S. context. The current investigation utilizes data from 44 diverse countries (n = 57,847), collected as part of the World Values Survey, to broaden our understanding of trust in media. The aim is two-fold—to learn about individual-level correlates across contexts and to demonstrate that macro-level factors play a part in shaping such trust. Our findings indicate that levels of political interest, interpersonal trust, and exposure to television news and newspapers are positively correlated with trust in media, while education and exposure to news on the Internet are negatively associated. On the macro level, postmaterialism emerged as a consistent predictor of trust in media. State ownership of the media industry did not have a main effect on trust in media after controlling for other factors. However, an interaction was found between state ownership and level of democracy: state ownership of television is positively associated with media trust in democratic societies and negatively associated with trust in media in nondemocratic societies.