In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.
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Out recently from Gallup:
Americans are three times more likely to describe the current state of moral values in the United States as “poor” than as “excellent” or “good.” Americans’ assessment of U.S. morality has never been positive, but the current ratings rank among the worst Gallup has measured over the past nine years.
The vast majority of Americans think that our morals are slipping, and in open-ended questions, respondents told Gallup it was because people were increasingly disrespectful of others, that parents weren’t raising their children with proper values or spending enough time taking care of them, corruption and dishonesty among business leaders was on the rise, and that folks are moving away from God and the church. (Interestingly, Democrats think that things aren’t going to the dogs as much as Republicans.)
But before you freak out, here’s an alternative view:
When respondents tell Gallup they are concerned about morals, it’s the data-based version of the “kids these days…” trope:
Kids these days need to learn some manners. Kids these days need to learn how to respect their elders. We always think that previous generations – or back in our day – had more character and moral fortitude. Indeed, research on Gallup’s morality polls from five years ago has found that young-adults tend to be more optimistic about the moral and ethical climate of America.
This is where your hear your Grandmother’s voice say, “Of course these young people think everything is great… They are the problem… Back in my day…”