Americans See Themselves As More Respectful Than They Were A Year Ago Toward Cultures With Different Values

A Majority of Americans Feel That Their Respect for Other Cultures Has Increased Over the Past Year, and Almost All Report Feeling Happier That They Live in the U.S.A. Ipsos-Reid World Monitor Poll Says

Washington, D.C. - More than half of Americans (56%) say they have become more likely, over the past year, to respect cultures that do not share their values. This is more than double the proportion who now find it harder to find such respect (27%) compared to one year ago. Roughly one-in-six (16%) volunteer that their feelings have remained constant in this regard.

At the same time that Americans consider their respect for other cultures to have grown, they also say, "There's no place like home."

Over 8 in 10 Americans say that over the past 12 months, they have become happier to be living in the United States. Only 7% of Americans say their feelings haven't changed one way or the other, and only 8% report decreased enthusiasm for living in the United States.

While Americans' stated openness toward cultures with different values may have increased, their willingness to travel overseas has not. Just 27% have become more likely over the past year to feel interested in traveling to other countries, a proportion dwarfed by the two-thirds (66%) who have become less likely to want to travel overseas.

There is a relationship between increased respect for cultures with different values and heightened interest in traveling overseas. Although Americans of all ages tend to feel they've become less interested in visiting other countries, those who feel the opposite are more likely to be among the group who say they've gained respect for other cultures. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) of those reporting less respect for other cultures also say they are more interested in traveling to other countries. But almost one-third (32%) of those who have become more respectful of other cultures have at the same time become more interested in travel abroad.

Those aged 65 and up are the most likely to say that in the past year they have become less respectful of cultures that do not share their values; this age group is also less likely to be interested in traveling to other countries.

Younger adults, on the other hand, are more likely than their elders are to say that they have become increasingly respectful of other cultures. And, although a majority of young people (56%) have lost their taste for travel just as their elders have (79%), a stronger minority of young people have actually gained interest in visiting other countries, relative to older Americans (37% vs. 17% of Americans 65 or older). This greater tendency among the young to look outward does not mean that they are any less happy to live in the United States than are their older counterparts.

America's blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other non-white peoples demonstrate an orientation quite different from that of white Americans. Non-white Americans are more likely to say they have become more respectful of cultures that do not share their values (68% compared to 54% of whites), and they show a greater interest in travel abroad (34% compared to 25% of whites).

There are no significant differences among races when it comes to self-reported increases, decreases, or static levels of happiness about living in the United States.

Republican-leaning Americans are more likely to indicate that they have become happier about living in America. Like Democrats, a majority of Republicans say they have become more rather than less respectful of other cultures. However, a larger minority of Republicans say they have become less keen (32% compared to 23% of Democrats).

Southern and Midwestern Americans are the most likely to have lost interest in traveling to other countries (70% and 69% less interested) while fewer Westerners have lost their taste for travel abroad (59% less interested).



These survey results tell a story of a nation with proud and happy citizens, who try to put themselves on the side of tolerance by declaring a growing appreciation for cultures with values other than their own. At the same time, Americans seem to have taken an inward turn in the last year, illustrated by their decreased interest in foreign travel.

The most striking findings of the demographic analysis of results are the differences between young and old; the differences between white and non-white Americans; and those between right-leaning and left-leaning voters. Both younger adults and non-whites are more likely to have gained in their appreciation for diversity, relative to older Americans, and whites. "There's some evidence of a divergence in how Americans look at the outside world," observed Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs President Thom Riehle. "Although citizens consistently feel good about living in this country, some who see themselves as less tolerant than before are more inclined to stick close to home --but others who feel more strongly about the importance of respect for other cultures are more curious and willing to venture abroad and see for themselves."


This press release is based on data collected by Ipsos U.S. Express from October 15-17, 2002, in the United States. The poll was conducted for Ipsos-Reid World Monitor, the global public affairs polling division of Ipsos-Reid.

We asked American adults to say whether, over the past 12 months, they have become MORE or LESS likely to:

    "Feel happy that you live in this country;" "State your opinion about controversial issues;" "Respect cultures that do not share your values;" "Trust your country's leaders to make the right decisions;" "Believe what you see or hear in the news;" "Be interested in traveling to other countries."

While "no change" was not a response option read out to respondents, if respondents volunteered it to our interviewers, we recorded their answer as "no change."

U.S. Express Research Methodology

These national survey research data were collected via Ipsos's U.S. Express, a weekly national omnibus survey. Fieldwork was conducted between October 15 and 17, 2002. Data are based on 1,000 telephone surveys taken with adults (18+) across the United States using regionally-stratified random sampling. The survey results can be said to be within 177 3.1 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult population been surveyed. To ensure that our sample reflects the make-up of the American population, we weight the results to match the latest Current Population Survey provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.


    For more information, please contact: Kiley Turner Editorial Director Ipsos-Reid Tel. 604-891-3772

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