Republicans, Democrats differ on what (moreover household) brings that means in life

(Pew Analysis Heart illustration)

In the US, even the that means of life can have a partisan tinge.

In February 2021, Pew Analysis Heart requested 2,596 U.S. adults the next open-ended query: “What about your life do you at present discover significant, fulfilling or satisfying? What retains you going and why?” Researchers then evaluated the solutions and grouped them into probably the most generally talked about classes.

Each Republicans and Democrats are most definitely to say they derive that means from their households, they usually additionally generally point out their pals, careers and materials well-being. However Republicans and Democrats differ considerably over a number of different elements, together with religion, freedom, well being and hobbies.

A chart showing that Republicans and Democrats largely agree that family, friends and careers give them meaning in life – but differ on other factors including faith and health

Actually, even a number of the phrases that partisans use to explain the place they draw that means in life differ considerably. Republicans, together with independents who lean to the Republican Social gathering, are more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say phrases like “God,” “freedom,” “nation,” “Jesus” and “faith.” Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say phrases like “new,” “canine,” “studying,” “outdoors,” “daughter” and “nature.” (Democrats are most definitely to say “new” within the context of studying one thing new. However some additionally point out it within the context of latest experiences, assembly new folks or different types of exploration.)

Beneath, we discover these partisan variations in additional element and take a look at how attitudes in the US evaluate internationally, primarily based on surveys carried out amongst 16 different publics in spring 2021.

This evaluation examines Individuals’ responses to an open-ended survey query about what offers them that means in life and explores how responses in the US differ from these elsewhere on the planet.

Within the U.S., Pew Analysis Heart carried out a nationally consultant survey of two,596 U.S. adults from Feb. 1 to 7, 2021. Everybody who took half within the U.S. survey is a member of the Heart’s American Developments Panel (ATP), a web based survey panel that’s recruited by means of nationwide, random sampling of residential addresses. This fashion practically all adults have an opportunity of choice. The survey is weighted to be consultant of the U.S. grownup inhabitants by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, schooling and different classes. Within the U.S., respondents have been requested a barely longer model of the query requested elsewhere: “We’re focused on exploring what it means to stay a satisfying life. Please take a second to mirror in your life and what makes it really feel worthwhile – then reply the query beneath as thoughtfully as you’ll be able to. What about your life do you at present discover significant, fulfilling or satisfying? What retains you going and why?”

The Heart additionally carried out nationally consultant surveys of 16,254 adults from March 12 to Could 26, 2021, in 16 superior economies. All surveys have been carried out over the telephone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Responses are weighted to be consultant of the grownup inhabitants in every public. Respondents in these publics have been requested a shorter model of the query requested within the U.S.: “We’re focused on exploring what it means to stay a satisfying life. What elements of your life do you at present discover significant, fulfilling or satisfying?” Responses have been transcribed by interviewers within the language wherein the interviews have been carried out.

Researchers examined random samples of English responses, machine-translated non-English responses and responses translated by an expert translation agency to inductively develop a codebook for the principle sources of that means talked about throughout the 17 publics. The codebook was iteratively improved through follow coding and calculations of intercoder reliability till a closing collection of codes was formally adopted (see Appendix C of the complete report).

To use the codebook to the complete assortment of 18,850 responses, a staff of Pew Analysis Heart coders {and professional} translators have been skilled to code English and non-English responses, respectively. Coders in each teams coded random samples and have been evaluated for consistency and accuracy. They have been requested to independently code responses solely after reaching an appropriate threshold for intercoder reliability. (For extra on the codebook, see Appendix A of the complete report.)

Right here is the query used for this evaluation, together with the coded responses for every public. Open-ended responses have been frivolously edited for readability (and, in some circumstances, translated into English by an expert agency). Listed below are extra particulars about our worldwide survey methodology and country-specific pattern designs. For respondents within the U.S., learn extra in regards to the ATP’s methodology.

Phrases within the lead graphic have been chosen first by filtering to the highest 100 phrases which might be distinctive of every social gathering, as measured by a chance ratio evaluating the proportion of responses from Democrats who talked about every phrase versus Republicans who did so, and vice versa. Phrases have been then filtered to the highest 25 primarily based on total frequency inside every social gathering. Phrases proven are used at the least 50% extra usually by these in a single social gathering relative to the opposite. Phrases have been decreased to their root type and exclude 354 widespread English “cease phrases.”

In merchandise 6 on this evaluation, assist for the governing social gathering shouldn’t be the identical as partisanship, however it’s the finest comparative measure throughout the 16 survey publics the place partisan identification is requested (it’s not requested in South Korea). Elsewhere on this evaluation, we depend on conventional measures of partisanship and take a look at how Democrats and independents who lean Democratic evaluate with Republicans and Republican leaners. 

Mentions of political executives have been recognized by looking out responses for specific names in addition to generic phrases like “president” and “prime minister” utilizing case-insensitive common expressions, a way for sample matching.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to quote faith as a supply of that means of their life. Folks in each events point out spirituality, religion and faith as a supply of that means, with particular references to taking part in conventional spiritual practices (e.g., “attending church providers”), in addition to extra normal references to dwelling a life knowledgeable by religion. One Republican girl, for instance, stated, “My religion and the power to decide on to be grateful, optimistic and joyful are what retains me going.”

A chart showing that Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. differ over some factors that make life meaningful

Total, although, round one-in-five Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (22%) say spirituality, religion or faith offers them that means in life, in contrast with solely 8% of Democrats and people who lean to the social gathering. Evangelical Protestants – a closely Republican group – are particularly prone to point out religion and faith as a supply of that means (34%). Smaller shares achieve this in different spiritual teams, together with these following the traditionally Black Protestant custom (18%), mainline Protestants (13%), Catholics (11%) and people who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing particularly” (2%).

Republicans are additionally significantly prone to point out God and Jesus. One Republican man stated, “Life with out Jesus is meaningless, unhappy and hopeless. It is just by means of a every day relationship with Christ that pleasure, love, peace and goodness may be discovered.”

Republicans are extra seemingly than Democrats (12% vs. 6%) to convey up freedom and independence as one thing that offers their life that means. Some folks point out freedom within the private sense, specializing in their means to stay the best way they need, their work-life steadiness, or having or wanting free time. One Republican girl stated, “I like having the ability to have the freedoms to make my very own choices and to have the ability to contribute to my nation. With the ability to categorical my views with out worrying about retribution.”

Others emphasize freedom in a extra political sense, highlighting issues like freedom of speech and faith. One Republican man had this to say: “Protecting the true that means of being an American, nation first, defending the Structure and freedom of speech.”

Democrats are extra seemingly than Republicans to quote bodily and psychological well being as a part of what offers them that means in life – they usually point out the COVID-19 pandemic extra often. When the survey was fielded in February, some 13% of Democrats and 9% of Republicans talked about well being – whether or not folks’s present state of well-being, their train regimens or the steps they take to guide wholesome lives. For some, well being can also be a precursor for different sources of that means. One Democratic man put it this fashion: “The most important factor for me is well being. In the event you don’t have your well being you don’t have a lot. Every little thing else can come later however you need to have your well being.”

One-in-five Individuals who talked about well being additionally talked about the COVID-19 pandemic, together with 23% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans. And whereas Democrats and Republicans have been about equally prone to point out COVID-19 within the context of difficulties or challenges they confronted, the specifics different by social gathering. One Republican girl, for instance, stated, “My household is my solely driving power. Being pressured right into a yearlong quarantine isn’t making that straightforward.” Alternatively, a Democratic girl stated, “Although COVID is a continuing fear, I’ve religion we are going to come by means of finally and that President Biden will have the ability to unite our nation.”

Democrats have been additionally more likely than Republicans to say COVID-19 within the context of the nation and the place they stay (23% vs. 6%) – suggesting that for Democrats, the pandemic has extra of a societal dimension than for Republicans.

Democrats are extra seemingly than Republicans to seek out that means in hobbies and recreation, nature and the outside, and pets – although small shares of Individuals total point out this stuff. Total, solely one-in-ten Individuals say hobbies are a supply of that means of their life, and even fewer say the identical about nature (4%) or pets (3%). However Democrats are about twice as seemingly as Republicans to quote every one as a supply of that means of their life. Amongst Democrats, liberals are extra seemingly than moderates and conservatives to seek out that means in hobbies, nature and pets, however there are few ideological variations amongst Republicans on these subjects.

Conservative Republicans are significantly prone to point out their nation or the place they stay as a supply of that means. Amongst Republicans, 16% point out the nation, patriotic and nationwide sentiments, or the state of America’s financial system or society as a supply of that means, in contrast with 12% of Democrats. However conservative Republicans (21%) are significantly prone to point out society relative to reasonable and liberal Republicans (9%), whereas there are not any main ideological variations amongst Democrats.

One Republican man supplied a brief and easy description of what offers him that means in life: “Being born in America.” And one Republican girl stated, “I’m first-generation American and I feel it’s the biggest nation on the planet, and I’m very grateful to stay right here.”

Partisanship is related to Individuals’ views in regards to the that means of life greater than it’s in different components of the world. In many of the 17 publics surveyed, those that assist the governing social gathering and people who don’t differ little in the case of the elements that convey them that means in life. Take the UK: Those that assist the governing Conservative Social gathering are simply as seemingly as those that do to not point out freedom, faith and different elements as sources of that means of their life. Actually, the only real outlying issue – out of all subjects that the Heart coded – is materials well-being: Conservative Social gathering supporters within the UK are barely extra seemingly than nonsupporters to say this brings them that means (16% vs. 10%).

Trying extra intently on the particular subject of freedom, the partisan variations which might be discovered within the U.S. are usually not on show elsewhere. Actually, the one different place the place partisan variations emerge over freedom is Taiwan, the place supporters of the governing Democratic Progressive Social gathering (DPP) are extra seemingly than nonsupporters to say it as a supply of that means (19% vs. 10%).

Although few point out authorities leaders when discussing the that means of life, Individuals are extra seemingly to take action than folks in different nations. Within the U.S., 2% of individuals talked about President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump – usually by identify – when answering the Heart’s query about the place they discover that means in life. (The survey was carried out quickly after Biden was inaugurated as president.)

One Republican girl, for instance, stated that what offers her that means in life is “the power and spine taught to me by President Trump – the that means of standing up fiercely within the face of idiocy.” Alternatively, a Democratic man celebrated Trump’s absence from workplace, declaring that he finds that means in life by means of “job satisfaction. Sufficient free money and time to get pleasure from life. Much less racial inequality. Much less Donald Trump and his fanatics.”

In each different place surveyed by the Heart, no a couple of individual – basically 0% of the general pattern – talked about a nationwide chief resembling a major minister or president by identify, and even the phrases “prime minister” or “president.” 

Laura Silver  is a senior researcher specializing in world analysis at Pew Analysis Heart.

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