What’s Your Opinion of the Good ol’ US of A?

While trolling the internet looking for the latest association news, study, or poll for my day job, I happened across the annual Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, a survey of over 300,000 people in 59 countries on a wide range of topics. The Spring 2012 edition currently shows data from 21 countries.

Looking at the key indicators as they relate to the United States, there’s some pretty interesting stuff in the survey. For instance, the overall opinion of the U.S. in 2012 is 80 percent favorable, up one percent over 2011 and much higher than I would have imagined given the images we see and the news we read every day. On the flip side, 14 percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable opinion, down three percent.

Pew breaks the categories down by country and the results aren’t all that surprising. Here are a few:

Opinion of the United States



While our own opinion of the country we live in didn’t change much from 2011 to 2012, the rest of the world’s saw a significant drop. Last year, we actually ranked 3rd in the opinion of our nation—Japan (85 percent) and Kenya (83 percent) came in above our 79 percent. In 2012, though, no country has a favorable opinion of the U.S. percentage above 75 percent (Italy at 74 percent).

Opinion of Americans



The trend continued here. We have the most favorable opinion of ourselves and plenty of other countries do as well, but there was a fairly significant decline in how favorable we were viewed abroad. Japan’s 80 percent favorable opinion of Americans was down seven percent from 2011, and the number of countries with a favorable opinion above 70 percent was cut in half.

Confidence in the U.S. President


Not Confident:

Our allies in the European Union have much more confidence in the President of the United States than we do. As a matter of fact, the U.S. (61 percent confident) ranks 8th on this list, behind Germany, France, G.B., the Czechs, Japan, Italy, and Brazil (?!?). What’s worse is that we’re far from last when it comes to the “no confidence” vote—we’re 12th out of the 21 countries listed at 37 percent.

U.S. Considerations of Other Countries’ Interests

When asked if they though the U.S. considered their country’s interests, the responses were not so surprising. While we Americans believe we are very good at being mindful of other countries’ needs, the rest of the world is not exactly on the same page. Our opinion of our thoughtfulness actually increased a percentage point over 2011.

Take a look:

Also available on the site, and a rather interesting exercise, is the Global IQ Quiz. Its purpose, according to Pew’s website is to “test how much you know about the worldwide image of the United States.” The short 10-question interactive quiz gives instant feedback and lets users browse the Pew database to learn about a wide range of findings from the Global Attitudes Project.

See if you can’t surpass my fantastic 6 out of 10.

What are your thoughts on these findings, or the rest of the survey?


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Categories: BLOG


I'm an editor for Associations Now, a magazine pubished by ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership. I live in Springfield, VA with my amazing wife, and am enjoying the ride that life is taking me on.


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