From Iconoculture's Research Desk:
What was top of mind for Americans in 2005? The word we were noodling on most? Tsunami? Nope; that was number 6. Filibuster? Number 4. Fact is, among the 7 million people who hit Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, the most sought-after word veered much closer to the heart of our national conscience. According to M-W.com, we were most curious about "Integrity."And its not relative to people's opinions. Dispite the war against absolutes, most Americans still know what is truly and absolutely right, and what is truly and absolutely wrong. Perhaps the mainstream media should pay attention. They could use a good dose of honesty and integrity.
It's not the first time the daily news has sent Americans scrambling for definitions - in 2004, the most popular was "blog." But with integrity, we can't help wondering, were Americans really clueless about the word's meaning, or did they just need a refresher? Or perhaps they thought there were new shades of integrity for politicians, sports heroes and even the media? Contends Merriam Webster president John Morse, "I think the American people have isolated a very important issue for our society to be dealing with" (AP 12.10.05.)
We've seen the quest for integrity driving people's behaviors, too. In fact, it shows up in five of Iconoculture's Macrotrends. We've reported on ethics-seeking business leaders, professional sports teams, and even the CIA struggling to amp their organizational integrity, and move the needle on public perception. With this stir of I-word interest, we're not expecting mass recitations of a dictionary-perfect definition. But when it comes to evaluating people, companies, products, or whatever, we're betting most consumers know integrity when they see it.