Americans overwhelmingly view spending time with family as one of the most important things in their life, far outranking other personal priorities, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
About three-quarters of U.S. adults (73%) rate spending time with family as one of the most important things to them personally, regardless of how much time they actually devote to it. Nine-in-ten say they view it either as one of the most important things or as very important but not the most important thing.
Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to assess public attitudes about personal life priorities. We surveyed 5,079 adults from March 27 to April 2, 2023. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
No more than a third of Americans rate any of the other eight items on the survey as among the most important to them. Clear majorities say being physically active (74%), being outdoors and experiencing nature (72%), and being successful in their career (66%) are at least very important to them.
Americans are split on the importance of practicing a religious faith: Half rate it as at least very important to them personally, while 21% say it is somewhat important and around three-in-ten (28%) say it is not important.
Smaller shares view participating in creative activities such as music, art or writing (43%), being involved with their community (40%), and being involved in social and political causes (27%) as at least very important to them personally. About three-in-ten (28%) say that social and political involvement is not at all important to them.
Republicans, Democrats have largely similar personal priorities
The survey of 5,079 U.S. adults, conducted from March 27 to April 2, finds that Republicans and Democrats rate many of these aspects of life similarly.
Spending time with family is at the top of the list for people in both parties. Roughly nine-in-ten people who identify with or lean toward each party say it is at least very important to them. Republicans and Democrats also have largely similar views about the importance of physical activity and of being outdoors and experiencing nature (about three-quarters in both parties say these are at least very important). And about two-thirds in both parties place high importance on career success.
Partisan differences are evident, however, on some items that are generally seen as less important.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to rate practicing a religious faith as at least very important to them personally (61% vs. 40%). By contrast, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to rate participating in creative activities such as music, art or writing as at least very important to them (52% vs. 35%) and to say the same of being involved in social or political causes (35% vs. 21%).
Personal priorities by age
Large shares of Americans of every age group rank family time, physical activity and being outdoors as either one of the most important things or very important to them personally. But older adults – particularly those ages 65 and older – are less likely than younger age groups to view being successful in their career as at least very important to them personally. Around three-quarters (76%) of adults 18 to 29 rate career success as at least very important, as do 71% of those 30 to 49 and 65% of those 50 to 64. Around half (51%) of adults 65 and older say the same.
Adults 65 and older are also the least likely to say that participating in creative activities is at least very important to them. One-in-three say this, compared with four-in-ten or more adults ages 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 and about half of adults ages 18 to 29. By contrast, older adults are more likely than younger adults to rate practicing a religious faith as at least very important to them personally: Six-in-ten of those 65 and older rate it as such, as do 56% of those 50 to 64 and around half (48%) of adults 30 to 49. About four-in-ten adults ages 18 to 29 say the same (37%).