Honesty & Ethics Poll: Pharmacists Strengthen Their Position As The Most Highly Rated Occupation

by Leslie McAneny and Lydia Saad

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Hail Their Integrity

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- For the ninth consecutive year, America's pharmacists top Gallup's list of 26 occupations rated for their "honesty and ethical standards." Pharmacists are cited by 69% of Americans -- an all time high for any profession measured by Gallup -- for having "high" or "very high" standards. Four other groups receive plaudits from a majority of Americans in Gallup's 1997 update of this annual survey: the clergy, medical doctors, college teachers and dentists.

Many professions, including journalists, business executives, building contractors and real estate agents are considered just "average" on Gallup's integrity scale. A few occupations, particularly car salesmen and lawyers, stand out for having relative high negative ratings.

How do Americans rate the integrity of public opinion pollsters? About equal with journalists TV reporters, both with predominantly average ratings

Few Changes from Last Year
The standing of most of the groups and professions in 1997 showed virtually no change from 1996.

Two major exceptions to this finding are pharmacists and bankers, both of whom received somewhat higher marks this year than last. The percentage giving pharmacists high or very high marks for honesty rose five percentage points, from 64% to 69%. Bankers -- whose ratings had tumbled in 1988 at the time of the Savings and Loan crisis -- rose eight percentage points, from 26% in 1996 to 34% this year. This marks the highest rating for bankers since the banking scandals became public, but is still lower than the 38-39% ratings they received prior to 1988.

The Bottom of the List
Only one profession is rated as having "low" or "very low" standards by a majority of Americans: car salesmen. Car salesmen have retained the dubious distinction of finishing last on the list every year since first included in 1977. This year only 8% of Americans credit them with high or very high standards, while nearly six in ten, 59%, view them in negative terms. Young adults are particularly scornful: only 5% credit car salesmen with high standards, while almost two-thirds (64%) rate their ethics as low or very low.

Second only to car salesmen in receiving negative integrity ratings are lawyers, with 41% calling their standings low or very low (only 15% consider them high or very high). On a relative basis labor union leaders, insurance salesmen and Congressmen are also poorly rated, given low or very low ratings by 36-38% of Americans.

Racial Divisions Remain for Police, Clergy
As in previous years, white Americans show much greater faith in the honesty and ethical standards of policemen than do blacks. Fifty-two percent of whites rate them high or very high, compared with only 31% of blacks.

Whites are also more likely than blacks to hold the clergy in high esteem: 61% of whites consider the clergy's standards high or very high compared to 46% of blacks.

One racial division noted in previous years may be diminishing. Two years ago, when the O.J. Simpson trial was America's chief preoccupation, blacks were far more admiring than whites -- by 21 points -- of lawyers' ethical standards. In 1996, the difference had decreased to 15 points, where it remains today, when 28% of blacks and 13% of whites give lawyers high marks.

METHODOLOGY
The results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,003 adults, 18 years and older, conducted November 6-9, 1997. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus 3 percentage points. Results based on blacks include interviews with 100 blacks nationwide and have a margin of error of plus or minus 11 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,...(ROTATED)

Honesty & Ethics: 26 Occupations

Nov 7-9, 1997

  Very high High Average Low Very low No opinion
Druggists, pharmacists 16 53 27 3 * 1
Clergy 17% 42 31 5 1 4
Medical doctors 10% 46 36 5 2 1
College teachers 11% 44 35 3 1 6
Dentists 9% 45 37 5 2 2
Policemen 10% 39 40 8 2 1
Engineers 9% 40 40 3 1 7
Funeral directors 7% 29 45 9 2 8
Bankers 4% 30 51 11 3 1
Public opinion pollsters 4% 19 55 12 2 8
Journalists 2% 21 53 17 4 3
TV reporters, commentators 4% 18 55 17 4 2
Business executives 3% 17 55 17 3 5
Local officeholders 3% 17 56 17 4 3
Building contractors 3% 17 53 18 4 5
Newspaper reporters 2% 17 48 24 6 3
Stockbrokers 2% 16 54 14 3 11
State officeholders 2% 15 53 24 4 2
Real estate agents 3% 13 56 20 4 4
Lawyers 3% 12 41 31 10 3
Labor union leaders 2% 13 41 26 12 6
Senators 2% 12 50 27 6 3
Advertising practitioners 2% 10 49 26 6 7
Congressmen 2% 10 49 28 8 3
Insurance salesmen 2% 10 47 30 8 3
Car salesmen 2% 6 31 40 19 2
Honesty & Ethics - Trend

(Based on those saying "high" or "very high" combined)

  1976 1977 1981 1983 1985 1988 1990
1. Druggists/pharmacists NA NA 59% 61% 65% 66% 62%
2. Clergy NA 61 63 64 67 60 55
3. Medical doctors 56 51 50 52 58 53 52
4. College teachers 49 46 45 47 53 54 51
5. Dentists NA NA 52 51 56 51 52
6. Policemen NA 37 44 41 47 47 49
7. Engineers 49 46 48 45 53 48 50
8. Funeral directors NA 26 30 29 32 24 35
9. Bankers NA 39 39 38 38 26 32
10. Public opinion pollsters NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
11. Journalists 33 33 32 28 31 23 30
12. TV reporters/ commentators NA NA 36 33 33 22 32
13. Business executives 20 19 19 18 23 16 25
14. Local officeholders NA 14 14 16 18 14 21
15. Building contractors 23 18 19 18 21 22 20
16. Newspaper reporters NA NA 30 26 29 22 24
17. Stockbrokers NA NA 21 19 20 13 14
18. State officeholders NA 11 12 13 15 11 17
19. Real estate agents NA 13 14 13 15 13 16
20. Lawyers 25 26 25 24 27 18 22
21. Labor union leaders 12 13 14 12 13 14 15
22. Senators 19 19 20 16 23 19 24
23. Advertising practitioners 11 10 9 9 12 7 12
24. Congressmen 14 16 15 14 20 16 20
25. Insurance salesmen NA 15 11 13 10 10 13
26. Car salesmen NA 8 6 6 5 6 6
** tie breakers: (1) Largest % "very high" (2) smallest % combined "low/very low"
Honesty & Ethics - Trend (Continued)

(Based on those saying "high" or "very high" combined)

  1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
1. Druggists/pharmacists 60% 66% 65% 62% 66% 64% 69%
2. Clergy 57 54 53 54 56 56 59
3. Medical doctors 54 52 51 47 54 55 56
4. College teachers 45 50 52 50 52 56 55
5. Dentists 50 50 50 51 54 53 54
6. Policemen 43 42 50 46 41 49 49
7. Engineers 45 48 49 49 53 48 49
8. Funeral directors 35 35 34 30 35 35 36
9. Bankers 30 27 28 27 27 26 34
10. Public opinion pollsters NA NA NA 27 25 24 23
11. Journalists 26 27 26 20 23 23 23
12. TV reporters/ commentators 29 31 28 22 21 23 22
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