If someone asked you how Americans and Europeans were different, would you be able to answer them succinctly? Sure, it seems like there are a lot of similarities like our democratic foundations, an alliance that has lasted for more than fifty years, and some of the highest living standards worldwide. What about some of the other issues though, like individualism, the role of government, free expression, religion, and morality? How do we differ with Europe when it comes to principles like those?

The Pew Research Center compiled a list of differences based on some of their charts.


Americans are more likely to think that they can control their own destiny. When asked about the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control”, 57% of Americans disagreed with it, which was the highest percentage. After that, the United Kingdom was the next country to disagree with 55%. The European median for this question was 37%.

Another difference is that Americans believe that the government should have less importance when it comes to individual liberty. In Pew’s study, about six-in-ten in the United States think that allowing everyone to reach for their life goals without interference from the government is more important.


Not so surprisingly, offensive speech is more tolerable in America. 77% of Americans think that citizens should be allowed to make statements offensive to people’s religious beliefs. 67% of Americans said the same about minority groups, where as Germany, Italy, and Poland was not on the same page. 27% of German citizens believe that it is okay to make offensive comments about minority groups publicly, Italy was 32%, and Poland was 41%.

Surprisingly, religion is not as important to Europeans as it is to Americans. 53% of Americans said that religion was very important, which was almost double the share that has this view in Poland, who had the highest percentage among the European Union countries in 2015. In France, only 14% consider religion very important. It seems that there is a relationship between a country’s wealth and its religiousness; generally poor nations tens to be more religious with the exception of the United States.


Lastly, Americans and Europeans see adultery differently. 84% of Americans say that married people having an affair is morally unacceptable, however, only 47% of France citizens believe that it is morally unacceptable. I think that needs to be investigated. Don’t you think?

(Photo Credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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