The University of Chicago News Office
June 30, 1998 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356
w-harms@uchicago.edu
 

Americans Are World's Most Patriotic People, National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago Finds

Americans are prouder of their country than are any other people in the world, according to a study of patriotism by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The survey found that nearly 90 percent of Americans would rather be citizens of the United States than of any other country. That rating is the highest of the 23 nations studied for “National Pride: A Cross-national Analysis,” the largest and most comprehensive international study ever conducted on national pride.

The United States was followed by Austria, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand in the average ranking of two national-pride scales: the National Pride in Specific Achievements scale, which asked questions related to pride in achievements in 10 areas, and the General National Pride scale, which gauged people's assessment of their country's national identity and purpose.

The 23 nations were surveyed in 1995 as part of a study by the International Social Survey Program, an organization of survey researchers. The results in this study are based on national, probablility samples of adults living each of the countries. Over 28,000 people were interviewed worldwide. The survey results were gathered and analyzed by Tom W. Smith, Director of NORC's General Social Survey and ISSP Secretary General. He is co-author of the report with Lars Jarkko, an undergraduate at the University of Chicago.

The rankings on the National Pride in Specific Achievements scale showed that people in Ireland have the highest amount of pride in specific achievements, with a score of 39.3 out of a possible 50. The Irish were prouder of their nation's sports, arts and literature, history and their record of being a fair and equal society than people in any other nation.

Americans, with a score of 38.5, rated their country tops in political influence, economic performance, scientific and technical accomplishments, and the ability of the armed forces. Canadians, with a score of 37.5, gave their country the highest rating for democratic values, while Austrians (36.5) rated their country at the top for its social security program.

“While America's position as the remaining superpower and world's largest economy clearly plays an important role in this top ranking, an important element of idealism also spurs pride in the U.S.,” Smith said. “Unlike most nation states, which were built up around a primordial tribe, the U.S. is based on a set of shared ideals.”

Results from the National Pride in Specific Achievements scale show Anglo-Celtic countries at the top of the list, as well as other stable, prosperous democracies. Others at the top are New Zealand (36.4), Norway (35.2), Great Britain (34.7), the Netherlands (34.6), Japan (34.5) and Spain (33.1).

At the bottom of the list are nations of the former Soviet bloc. The bottom five in national pride are Hungary (28.4), Slovakia (28.2), Poland (28.2), Russia (28) and Latvia (27.8).

The low rankings in the former Soviet bloc nations probably reflect the disappointment of people in how their nations are faring after the collapse of communism. “For years, people in Eastern Europe were told they were living in model worker states. The fall of communism made them realize how wrong that assessment was. That realization hurt their national self-esteem,” Smith said.

In the middle of the National Pride in Specific Achievements ranking are the Philippines (32.4), West Germany (32.2), Sweden (31.6), Bulgaria (31.4), East Germany (31), Slovenia (30.9), Italy (30.5) and the Czech Republic (29.5).

The surveyors divided the data in Germany to determine if East Germans responded to national pride questions as other former members of the Soviet bloc, or if they responded like West Germans. The most striking contrasts between East and West Germans are in their views about sports and arts and literature. East Germans gave their country a higher rating in those areas than did West Germans. West Germans rated Germany higher in social security benefits than did East Germans.

In the second part of the study, the General National Pride scale, Smith found few patterns among types of nations. That scale measured the ways in which national groups view their own history, assess their contemporary international influence, and gauge their national aspiration. The rankings of countries on General National Pride are less based on objective conditions than are the rankings of National Pride in Specific Achievements and more reflective of subjective, national self-assessment.

The General National Pride scale asked people if they would rather be citizens of their country than any other, if they feel their country is better than any other, if they would support their country even it is wrong, if there is anything that makes them feel ashamed of their country, and if they think the world would be a better place if other countries were like their own.

In the General National Pride scale, Austria had a score of 17.6 out of a possible score of 25. The United States was second (17.2), followed by Bulgaria (17), Hungary (16.7) and Canada (16.6).

Austrians were more likely than people of other countries to feel the world would be a better place if other countries were like their own, with 54 percent of the people holding that view. Americans were more likely to say they would rather be a citizen of their country than any other (89.9 percent).

At the bottom of the General National Pride scale were, in order, Italy (14.1), Latvia (13.9), West Germany (13.7), East Germany (13.6) and Slovakia (13.5).

 

http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/98/980630.patriotism.shtml
Last modified at 03:51 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us