The American-Western European Values Gap

Nov 17, 2011

As has long been the case, American values differ from those of Western Europeans in many important ways. Most notably, a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project finds that Americans are more individualistic and are less supportive of a strong safety net than are the publics of Spain, Britain, France and Germany.

Americans also are somewhat more inclined than Western Europeans to say that it is sometimes necessary to use military force to maintain order in the world. Moreover, Americans more often than their Western European allies believe that obtaining UN approval before their country uses military force would make it too difficult to deal with an international threat. And Americans are less inclined than the Western Europeans, with the exception of the French, to help other nations.

These differences between Americans and Western Europeans echo findings from previous surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center. However, the current polling shows the American public is coming closer to Europeans in not seeing their culture as superior to that of other nations.

Read the full report, The American-Western European Values Gap, on the Pew Global Attitudes Project Web site.

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