Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

How do U.S. adults rank equality and tolerance among top values now?

From Protests to the Ballot Box, Our Country is Refocusing Its Values

One week ago, we thought this blog post regarding values would be about the changes we’ve seen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, the COVID-19 headlines have been pushed farther and farther down the front page as the country focuses on another crisis: the continued plight of systematic racism in America.

And, if the protests from coast-to-coast are any indication, this movement has struck a chord not only due to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but because the tides are shifting in the values of the American population at large, particularly when it comes to equality and tolerance being held up as important personal values.

Some Quick Context: Evolving Values…This Isn’t Something We See Every Day

When we talk about consumer preferences or behaviors, those can change from month-to-month or year-over-year. But, when we talk about values, those are something that typically stays consistent over the course of a lifetime. Who you are and what you believe in typically stays consistent throughout adulthood.

Yet, In a Year of Rapid and Extreme Change, Values are Moving

To measure these personal values, which are part of what refer to as the Human Element, we use the theory of basic individual values, developed by Dr. Shalom Schwartz. He developed a set of personal values that range from individuality to humanity to creativity, duty, dependability and more. For the purposes of this post, we’re looking at the two values that define the conversation and action that has defined the past week:

  • TOLERANCE: acceptance of those who are different than you
  • EQUALITY: the belief that everyone should be treated equally

We have seen that tolerance has increased in the U.S. adult population by 12.7% and equality by 10.1%. As of June 2, 52.3% of the U.S. population says that tolerance is an important value in their lives and 53.7% believe that equality is an important value.

Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

What Do We Know About U.S. Adults Who Cite Equality and Tolerance as Important Values?

Not surprisingly, we see that the tolerance group also is more likely to cite equality as an important value and vice versa. Both groups are also significantly more likely to value duty, or following laws and obligations.

It’s heartening to see that these groups are split evenly (16-19% each) among age groups from 25 to 65+, though we did find the tolerance group to be 56% female, while equality is 55% female.

When it comes to media consumption, these two groups are almost identical. Both group’s top TV networks are MSNBC, Bravo and CBS. Their favorite evening news programs are PBS Newshour and CBS Evening News. Both are more likely to have watched the local news in the past seven days, with PBS and CBS as the most likely stations. Both groups are more likely to read the local daily newspaper and the Washington Post.

Those who cite tolerance as an important value are 15% more likely to report heavy social media engagement and those who cited equality are right behind them at 14% more likely. So, what are they doing when they’re on social? Both groups are more likely to be on Twitter, they’re more likely to respond to or post to a friend’s page, and they’re more likely to share something important –– perhaps a message that aligns with their desire for tolerance and equality.

Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

Those Who Are Value Equality and Tolerance Are Willing to Speak Out

Given the protests, social media movements and conversations that are happening across our country as we write this, it makes sense that these groups are ready and willing to use their voices to further social causes. They are more likely than the average American to engage in all of the activities below to share their thoughts on social issues –– including attend a rally or protest.

Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

And, when it comes to voting, while they’ve previously been more likely not to vote in primaries and non-presidential elections, they’re going to show up to the polls in November. 77 and 76% of the tolerance and equality groups, respectively, say they intend to vote in November 2020’s presidential election.

Values In 2020: Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

Continuing to Track Shifts in Equality and Tolerance Among U.S. Adults

As the world continues to change and evolve, we’ll be tracking value shifts in real-time. We’re staying in touch with U.S. consumers across the country through our National Consumer StudyTM and will be covering changes across behaviors, preferences, values, motivations and more through reports, including our recent Who are the Diverse Americans Engaged with Coronavirus Content report.

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