WASHINGTON -- Americans don't trust each other anymore.
For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy -- trust in the other fellow -- has been quietly draining away.
These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.
Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people.
Does it matter?
Social scientists say it does.
What's known as "social trust" brings about good things.
A society where it's easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust even appears to promote economic growth.