Nurses Remain at Top of Honesty and Ethics Poll

by Darren K. Carlson

Car salesmen still seen as least honest and ethical

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ – For the second year in a row, Gallup’s survey on honesty and ethics in professions finds that the American public rates nursing as the field with the highest standards of honesty and ethics. Almost eight in 10 Americans -- 79% -- say nurses have "very high" or "high" ethical standards. Pharmacists finish second with 67%. Pharmacists had consistently finished first in the survey, until nurses were added to the list in 1999.

Two other professions involving medical health were also rated highly for their honesty and ethics -- sixty-six percent of Americans say that veterinarians have high or very high ethical standards, while medical doctors are given a rating of 63% on the same measure. The top ten most ethical professions (as rated by the public) are rounded out by grade school and high school teachers, the clergy, college teachers, dentists, engineers and policemen.

Here is the Top 10 list of "very high" or "high" honesty and ethics.

1.

Nurses

79%

2.

Druggists, pharmacists

67

3.

Veterinarians

66

4.

Medical doctors

63

5.

Grade & high school teachers

62

6.

Clergy

60

7.

College teachers

59

8.

Dentists

58

9.

Engineers

56

10.

Policemen

55

 

While medical practitioners enjoy exceptionally high ratings for their perceived ethics, most other professionals, including journalists, business executives, building contractors, and real estate agents, rate at least "average" on Gallup’s integrity scale. A few job titles, particularly car salesmen and lawyers, stand out for having relatively high negative ratings. However, only one profession is rated as having "low" or "very low" standards by a majority of Americans: car sales.

Indeed, the public has viewed car sales as the least ethical profession since Gallup began asking the question in 1977, and this year is no different. Only 7% of Americans currently say that car salesmen have very high or high honesty and ethical standards. But car salesmen are not the only professionals the public sees in this negative light. Advertising practitioners and insurance salesmen are viewed as honest and ethical by 10% of the public, while just 16% say that about newspaper reporters. The "bottom five" is completed with a three-way tie. Only 17% of Americans view the honesty and ethics of labor union leaders, real estate agents, and lawyers as high or very high.

Elected Officials Draw Less Than Rave Reviews
Americans remain skeptical of the honesty and ethics of their elected officials. As with every previous year, less than half the public said any elected official on Gallup’s list had "very high" or "high" honesty and ethics. Of the elected positions tested, state governors finish highest with very high or high ratings from 30% of the public, followed by local officeholders with 25%, state senators with 24%, and congressmen with 21%. For a sense of context, these ratings place elected officials in about the same range as TV reporters (21%), auto mechanics (22%), building contractors (23%) and business executives (23%).

Opinion of News Professionals’ and Lawyers’ Ethics Steadily Declining
The long-term trends of Gallup’s honesty and ethics survey reveal a growing skepticism among the American public regarding the ethics of news professionals and lawyers. The three news professions surveyed all remain significantly lower than when they were first placed on the list. Twenty-one percent of the public says journalists are honest and ethical, a percentage that has declined steadily from its debut of 33% in 1977. Two specific news professions that first appeared on the list in 1981, TV reporting and newspaper reporting, have also dipped significantly. Currently, 21% of the public rates TV reporters as having high ethical standards; down steadily from the 36% they received in 1981. Similarly, just 16% of the public gives newspaper reporters very high or high ethical ratings. Again, this percentage has decreased consistently since 1981, when it was 30%.

Lawyers are often the punch line to jokes regarding professional ethics and honesty. They debuted on Gallup’s survey list in 1977 with 26%. Lawyers have not been rated as having high ethical standards by more than 20% of the public since 1991, and the latest poll shows a rating of 17%.

Survey Methods

The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,028 adults, 18 years and older, conducted November 13-15, 2000. For results based on the whole sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields -- very high, high, average, low, or very low? First, ... Next, ...[RANDOM ORDER]

 

2000 Nov 13-15

Very
high

High

Average

Low

Very
low

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

Druggists, pharmacists

14

53

30

3

*

*

Clergy

20

39

30

6

1

4

College teachers

11

48

30

5

*

6

Medical doctors

14

49

29

6

2

*

Dentists

9

49

35

5

1

1

Engineers

9

47

36

3

*

5

Policemen

12

43

34

8

3

*

Bankers

5

32

51

10

1

1

Funeral directors

7

28

48

10

2

5

Journalists

2

19

51

21

5

2

TV reporters, commentators

4

18

47

22

8

1

Newspaper reporters

2

14

53

24

6

1

Building contractors

3

20

55

16

3

3

Senators

3

21

54

18

2

2

Lawyers

3

14

42

29

11

1

Business executives

2

20

56

14

3

5

Congressmen

2

19

56

18

3

2

Local officeholders

3

23

55

13

3

3

Labor union leaders

3

14

43

24

9

7

Real estate agents

2

15

58

19

4

2

Stockbrokers

2

17

54

16

3

8

State officeholders

2

18

58

17

2

3

Insurance salesmen

2

9

52

29

7

1

Advertising practitioners

1

9

52

27

6

5

Car salesmen

1

6

35

40

17

1

State governors

4

27

50

13

3

3

Auto mechanics

3

19

52

20

5

1

Judges

8

39

38

11

2

2

Veterinarians

14

52

26

2

1

5

Nurses

20

59

18

2

*

1

Grade and high school teachers

14

48

28

7

2

1

Accountants

5

33

51

5

1

5



GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PERCENT SAYING "VERY HIGH" / "HIGH"

 

‘93

‘94

‘95

‘96

‘97

‘98

‘99

 

‘00

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

1

Nurses

--

--

--

--

--

--

73

79

2

Druggists, pharmacists

65

62

66

64

69

64

69

67

3

Veterinarians

--

--

--

--

--

--

63

66

4

Medical doctors

51

47

54

55

56

57

58

63

5

Grade & high school teachers

--

--

--

--

--

--

57

62

6

Clergy

53

54

56

56

59

59

56

60

7

College teachers

52

50

52

56

55

53

52

59

8

Dentists

50

51

54

53

54

53

52

58

9

Engineers

49

49

53

48

49

50

50

56

10

Policemen

50

46

41

49

49

49

52

55

11

Judges

--

--

--

--

--

--

53

47

12

Accountants

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

38

13

Bankers

28

27

27

26

34

30

30

37

14

Funeral directors

34

30

35

35

36

33

35

36

15

State governors

--

--

--

--

--

--

24

30

16

Local officeholders

19

18

21

19

20

21

20

25

17

Senators

18

12

12

15

14

19

17

24

18

Business executives

20

22

19

17

20

21

23

23

19

Building contractors

20

17

21

23

20

19

18

23

20

Auto mechanics

--

--

--

--

--

--

24

22

21

Journalists

26

20

23

23

23

22

24

21

22

TV reporters/commentators

28

22

21

23

22

21

20

21

23

Congressmen

14

10

10

14

12

17

11

21

24

State officeholders

14

12

15

13

17

17

16

20

25

Stockbrokers

13

15

16

15

18

19

16

19

26

Labor union leaders

14

14

14

16

15

15

17

17

27

Real estate agents

15

14

15

15

16

16

14

17

28

Lawyers

16

17

16

17

15

14

13

17

29

Newspaper reporters

22

17

20

17

19

20

19

16

30

Insurance salesmen

10

9

11

11

12

11

10

10

31

Advertising practitioners

8

12

10

11

12

10

9

10

32

Car salesmen

6

6

5

8

8

5

8

7

33

Day care providers

--

--

--

--

--

--

41

--

34

Computer industry executives

--

--

--

--

--

--

35

--

35

Home repair people

--

--

--

--

--

--

29

--

36

Chiropractors

--

--

--

--

--

--

26

--

37

Store salespeople

--

--

--

--

--

--

22

--

38

Nursing home operators

--

--

--

--

--

--

22

--

39

Computer salesmen

--

--

--

--

--

--

20

--

40

Jewelers

--

--

--

--

--

--

20

--

41

Entertainment industry execs.

--

--

--

--

--

--

15

--

42

Real estate developers

--

--

--

--

--

--

15

--

43

Gun salesmen

--

--

--

--

--

--

12

--

44

Internet journalists

--

--

--

--

--

--

10

--

45

HMO Managers

--

--

--

--

--

--

10

--

46

Telemarketers

--

--

--

--

--

--

9

--

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PERCENT SAYING "VERY HIGH" / "HIGH" (continued)

‘77

‘81

‘83

‘85

‘88

‘90

‘91

‘92

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

1

Nurses

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

2

Druggists, pharmacists

--

59

61

65

66

62

60

66

3

Veterinarians

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

4

Medical doctors

51

50

52

58

53

52

54

52

5

Grade & high school teachers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

6

Clergy

61

63

64

67

60

55

57

54

7

College teachers

46

45

47

53

54

51

45

50

8

Dentists

--

52

51

56

51

52

50

50

9

Engineers

46

48

45

53

48

50

45

48

10

Policemen

37

44

41

47

47

49

43

42

11

Judges

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

12

Accountants

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

13

Bankers

39

39

38

38

26

32

30

27

14

Funeral directors

26

30

29

32

24

35

35

35

15

State governors

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

16

Local officeholders

14

14

16

18

14

21

19

15

17

Senators

19

20

16

23

19

24

19

13

18

Business executives

19

19

18

23

16

25

21

18

19

Building contractors

18

19

18

21

22

20

20

19

20

Auto mechanics

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

21

Journalists

33

32

28

31

23

30

26

27

22

TV reporters/commentators

--

36

33

33

22

32

29

31

23

Congressmen

16

15

14

20

16

20

19

11

24

State officeholders

11

12

13

15

11

17

14

11

25

Stockbrokers

--

21

19

20

13

14

14

13

26

Labor union leaders

13

14

12

13

14

15

13

14

27

Real estate agents

13

14

13

15

13

16

17

14

28

Lawyers

26

25

24

27

18

22

22

18

29

Newspaper reporters

--

30

26

29

22

24

24

25

30

Insurance salesmen

15

11

13

10

10

13

14

9

31

Advertising practitioners

10

9

9

12

7

12

12

10

32

Car salesmen

8

6

6

5

6

6

8

5

33

Day care providers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

34

Computer industry executives

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

35

Home repair people

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

36

Chiropractors

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

37

Store salespeople

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

38

Nursing home operators

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

39

Computer salesmen

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

40

Jewelers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

41

Entertainment industry execs.

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

42

Real estate developers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

43

Gun salesmen

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

44

Internet journalists

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

45

HMO Managers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

46

Telemarketers

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

*Less than 0.5%

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