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.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.

To boost your self-esteem, write about chapters of your life

If you're lacking confidence and feel like you could benefit from an ego boost, try writing your life story.

Personal Growth

In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.

Keep reading Show less

Futuristic inventions and emerging technologies that will change the world

What do the inventions of the future look like?

(Photo Credit: Rick Guidice/NASA)
Technology & Innovation
  • Self-sustaining space colonies and unlimited fusion energy would bring humanity to a new point in our evolution.
  • Flying cars and robot butlers could be the next paradigm shift in our tech appetite for change.
  • Death and consensus reality might soon become obsolete.
Keep reading Show less

Ashes of cat named Pikachu to be launched into space

A space memorial company plans to launch the ashes of "Pikachu," a well-loved Tabby, into space.

GoFundMe/Steve Munt
Culture & Religion
  • Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mission.
  • If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will be the second cat to enter space, the first being a French feline named Felicette.
  • It might seem frivolous, but the cat-lovers commenting on Munt's GoFundMe page would likely disagree.
Keep reading Show less