America's New National Psychology, Mid-Recession

A series of polls conducted over the last three years shows that, in the midst of the Great Recession, Americans are resilient, wary, and divided but most still believe in the power of hard work.

What's the Latest Development?


Polls conducted throughout the Great Recession suggest a new national psychology is emerging. Americans are questioning many (though not all) of the assumptions on which our communal character is built. "I myself don't see no one trying to help me," said one unemployed lumber mill worker, capturing the majority opinion that in these tough times, Americans are paddling alone. Despite the feeling of isolation, a majority still believes, despite evidence to the contrary, that hard work alone can create greater material wealth.  

What's the Big Idea?

Skepticism has pervaded the would-be bread and butter of American life. College education, once thought of as a ticket to the middle class, is increasingly seen as too expensive. Home ownership is no longer an automatic goal as many families pay the high price for taking on too much debt. The Recession has confirmed one tradition, though: skepticism of government. Americans believe government action has mainly benefited banks and large corporations, the same group they blame for causing the recession.

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