Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Young Adults in Europe Are Critical of the U.S. and China – but for Different Reasons


Pew Research Center contracted Ipsos Mori to run a series of focus groups in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States exploring young adults’ attitudes toward international engagement, the global balance of power and their country’s role in the world. The analysis presented in this report is intended to provide insight into the balance of power, views of the U.S. and views of China among the groups in the three European countries and is not meant to be an exhaustive representation of public opinion on these issues or of particular demographic groups or countries.

About the groups

We held 16 focus groups from Nov. 8 to Dec. 7, 2022, in or near the capital cities of France (Paris), Germany (Berlin), the UK (London) and the U.S. (Arlington, Virginia), with four groups per country. Participants were recruited using a screening questionnaire designed by Pew Research Center. All participants were given financial remuneration for their time.

Groups typically consisted of eight adults ages 18 to 29 coming together for roughly an hour and a half. There was a discussion led by a professional moderator using a discussion guide including questions related to (1) international engagement, (2) sources of pride and shame in their country’s history and (3) issues about what bring countries together, developed by Pew Research Center. All focus groups required participants to have at least some interest in politics, and all groups contained a roughly even mix of men and women and education levels.

Groups were organized by ideological affiliation and views toward their own country’s involvement in world affairs. Participants who placed themselves from 0 to 3 on a 7-point ideological scale were recruited to “left” groups, and those who selected 3 through 6 were recruited to “right” groups. In the U.S., people were asked to place themselves on a scale from very liberal to very conservative. Groups were also filtered based on responses to the following question: “In general, which of the following is best for the future of our country: If we are active in world affairs, or, if we pay less attention to problems in other countries and focus on problems here at home.” Those who answered “active in world affairs” were recruited to “internationally engaged” groups, and those who preferred “paying less attention to world affairs” were recruited to “domestically focused” groups. Across all four countries, we held four groups encompassing these elements: right internationally engaged, right domestically focused, left internationally engaged and left domestically focused.

Chart showing focus group recruitment approach

About the analysis

The conversations among group participants were video recorded, transcribed and translated. The final data sent to Pew Research Center was anonymized. Pew Research Center analyzed the transcripts (in English) for key themes. Our analysis is not a fact check of participants’ views.

While we do highlight sentiments expressed by individual participants in the report, they are meant to be representative of the themes discussed in the group more broadly. Nonetheless, quotations are not necessarily representative of the majority opinion in any particular group or country. Quotations may have been edited for grammar, spelling and clarity.

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