Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ on other sources of meaning in life. (2023)

Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ on other sources of meaning in life. (1)

In the USA eventhe sense of lifemay have a biased trait.

In February 2021, the Pew Research Center asked 2,596 American adults the following open-ended question: "What do you find meaningful, rewarding, or fulfilling in your life?" What motivates you and why?” The researchers then analyzed the responses and grouped them into the most frequently mentioned categories.

Both Republicans and Democrats are more likely to say they derive meaning from their families, and they also frequently mention their friends, careers and material wealth. But Republicans and Democrats differ significantly on a number of other factors, including belief, freedom, health and hobbies.

In fact, even some ofWordsthe partisans use to describe where they derive meaning in life differ significantly. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents use words like "God", "Freedom", "Country", "Jesus" and "Religion" much more often than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Democrats mention words like "new", "dog", "reading", "out", "daughter" and "nature" much more often than Republicans. (Democrats are more likely to mention “new” in connection withLearnSomething new. However, some also mention it in the context of new experiences, meeting new people, or other forms of exploration.)

Below, we examine these partisan differences in more detail and examine how attitudes in the United States compare internationally, based on surveys conducted in the spring of 2021 among 16 other audiences.

how did we do it

This analysis examines Americans' responses to an open-ended survey question about what gives them purpose in life and examines how responses in the United States differ from those found in other parts of the world.

In the United States, the Pew Research Center conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,596 American adults from February 1 to 7, 2021. All survey participants in the United States are members of the American Trends Panel (ATP), an online research panel. line of the Center, recruited through a national sampling of residential addresses. In this way, almost all adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, political party affiliation, education, and other categories. In the United States, respondents were given a slightly longer version of the question asked elsewhere: “We are interested in exploring what it means to live a happy life. Take a moment to reflect on your life and why it is valuable - and then answer the following question as carefully as possible. What do you currently consider meaningful, rewarding, or fulfilling in your life? What motivates you and why?”

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The center also conducted nationally representative surveys of 16,254 adults in 16 advanced economies from March 12 to May 26, 2021. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain , Sweden, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Responses are weighted to be representative of the adult population in each audience. Respondents from these target groups were asked a shorter version of the question asked in the United States: “We are interested in exploring what it means to live a happy life. What aspects of your life do you currently find meaningful, fulfilling, or fulfilling?” The answers were transcribed by the interviewers in the language in which the interviews were conducted.

The researchers examined random samples of English responses, machine-translated non-English responses, and responses translated by a professional translation agency to inductively develop a codebook for the main sources of meaning mentioned in the 17 audiences. The codebook was iteratively improved through practice coding and intercoder reliability calculations until a final set of codes was formally accepted (seeappendix Cof the full report).

To apply the codebook to the entire collection of 18,850 responses, a team of professional programmers and translators from the Pew Research Center was trained to code responses in English and non-English, respectively. Coders in both groups coded random samples and were scored for consistency and accuracy. They were asked not to code the responses independently until they reached an acceptable threshold of intercoder reliability. (For more information about the codebook, seeAnhang Aof the full report.)

Here it isthe question usedfor this analysis, along with the coded responses for each audience. Open-ended responses have been slightly edited (and in some cases translated into English by a professional company) for clarity. Here are more details aboutour international research methodologyand country-specific pattern designs. For US respondents, read more aboutthe ATP methodology.

Words in the orientation chart were selected by first filtering the top 100 characteristic words for each party, as measured by an odds ratio comparing the proportion of responses from Democrats who mentioned each word to Republicans who did and vice versa. Words were then filtered from the top 25 based on overall frequency within each group. The displayed words are used at least 50% more often by members of one party compared to the other. Words were reduced to their stem form by deleting 354 common English "stop words".

In item 6 of this analysis, support for the ruling party is not the same as partisanship, but it is the best reference for the 16 respondents who requested party identification (which is not required in South Korea). Elsewhere in this analysis, we turn to traditional measures of partisanship and analyze how Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents compare to Republicans and Republican-leaning parties.

Mentions of political leaders were identified by searching for specific names as well as general terms such as "president" and "prime minister", case insensitive, a pattern recognition method.

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to cite religion as a source of meaning in their lives.People on both sides cite spirituality, belief, and religion as a source of meaning, with specific references to participation in traditional religious practices (eg, “attending religious services”), as well as more general references to living a life of faith. For example, one Republican woman said, "My faith and ability to be grateful, optimistic, and joyful keep me going."

Overall, however, about one in five Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (22%) say that spirituality, belief or religion gives them meaning in life, compared with just 8% of Democrats and those leaning toward the party. evangelical protestants -a strongly republican group– mainly cites faith and religion as a source of meaning (34%). Smaller proportions do so in other religious groups, including those who follow the historically black Protestant tradition (18%), mainline Protestants (13%), Catholics (11%) and those who identify as atheists, agnostics or "nothing special". . "( two%).

Republicans also frequently mention God and Jesus. One Republican said, "Life without Jesus is meaningless, sad, and hopeless. Only through a daily relationship with Christ can you find joy, love, peace, and goodness."

Republicans are more likely than Democrats (12% versus 6%) to approach freedom and independence as something that gives their lives meaning.Some people mention freedom in a personal sense, focusing on their ability to live the way they want, work-life balance, or having or wanting free time. One Republican woman said, "I like having the freedom to make my own decisions and contribute to my country. Being able to express my opinions without worrying about retaliation.”

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Others emphasize freedom in a more political sense, emphasizing things like free speech and freedom of religion. One Republican put it this way: "Preserving the true meaning of Americanness, country first, upholding the Constitution and free speech."

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cite physical and mental health as part of what gives them meaning in life — and they mention the COVID-19 pandemic more often.When the poll was taken in February, about 13% of Democrats and 9% of Republicans mentioned health - whether it be people's current health status, their exercise programs or the steps they are taking to lead healthy lives. For some, health is also a precursor to other sources of meaning. As one Democrat put it: “The most important thing to me is health. If you're not healthy, you don't have much. Everything else can come later, but you must maintain your health.”

One in five Americans who mentioned health also mentioned itThe Covid-19 pandemic, including 23% Democrats and 17% Republicans. And while Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to mention COVID-19 in the context of the difficulties or challenges they faced, the details varied by party. For example, a Republican woman said, “My family is my only driving force. Being forced into a year-long quarantine doesn't make it easy." On the other hand, a Democrat said, "While COVID is an ongoing concern, I have faith that we will eventually make it and that President Biden will be able to unite our country."

Democrats were also much more likely than Republicans to mention COVID-19 in connection with the country and where they live (23% versus 6%) - suggesting the pandemic has more of a social dimension for Democrats than it does for Republicans. .

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to find meaning in hobbies and recreation, nature and the outdoors, and pets — though few Americans mention these things.Overall, only one in ten Americans say hobbies are a source of meaning in their life, and even fewer say the same about outdoor activities (4%) or pets (3%). But Democrats cite each individual as a source of meaning in their lives twice as often as Republicans. Among Democrats, liberals are more likely than moderates and conservatives to find meaning in hobbies, nature and pets, but there are few ideological differences among Republicans on these issues.

Conservative Republicans often cite their country or place of residence as a source of meaning.Among Republicans, 16% cite the country, patriotic and national sentiments, or the state of the American economy or society as a source of importance, compared with 12% of Democrats. But conservative Republicans (21%) are particularly likely to mention society compared to moderate and liberal Republicans (9%), although there are no major ideological differences between Democrats.

One Republican offered a short, simple description of what gives him purpose in life: "Born in America." I am so grateful to live here.”

More than in other parts of the world, partisanship is associated with Americans' views on the meaning of life.In most of the 17 publics surveyedthose who support the ruling partyand those who differ greatly in terms of the factors that give them meaning in life. Take Britain, for example: those who support the ruling Conservative Party are just as likely to cite freedom, religion and other factors as sources of meaning in life as those who don't. Indeed, the only secondary factor – of all the questions coded by the Center – is material well-being: supporters of the UK Conservative Party are slightly more likely than non-supporters to say that it gives them meaning (16 % versus 10%).

Looking more closely at the specific issue of freedom, the partisan differences found in the United States are often not evident elsewhere. In fact, the only other place where partisan disagreements over freedom erupt is Taiwan, where Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters are most likely to cite it as a source of importance (19% versus 10%).

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Although few government leaders mention it when discussing the meaning of life, Americans are more likely to do so than people in other countries.In the US, 2% of people mentioned President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump – usually by name – when answering the center's question about where they find meaning in life. (The poll was taken shortly after Biden's inauguration as president.)

One Republican woman, for example, said that what gives her life meaning is "the strength and backbone I learned from President Trump - the importance of standing firm against idiocy." On the other hand, one Democrat celebrated Trump's absence from office, declaring that he found meaning in life through "job satisfaction". Enough free time and money to enjoy life. Less racial inequality. Except Donald Trump and his fanatics.”

No more than one at any other location surveyed by the centerPeople– essentially 0% of the total sample – mentioned a national leader such as a prime minister or president by name or even theWords"Prime Minister" or "President".

Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ on other sources of meaning in life. (4)

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Laura Prata is a senior research fellow focused on global research at the Pew Research Center.

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Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ on other sources of meaning in life. (5)

Patrick Van Kessel is a former senior data scientist at the Pew Research Center.

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