According to the European Social Survey, political trust is characterized by trust within a political institution, such as Congress or Parliament. Political trust is a measurement of citizens' belief in the institutions which govern them.
The ESS states that, unlike social trust, which is learned upon firsthand experience, political trust is learned at a distance, usually through media. Studies show that higher levels of political trust result in higher levels of compliance, such as more tax payments by citizens. A 2013 Gallup poll found that Americans trust in the three federal branches of government and state and local governments were at historic lows.