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Americans Converse More About Family Matters Than Politics

Americans Converse More About Family Matters Than Politics

Story Highlights

  • 46% say they discussed family/personal matters in past week
  • 24% discussed political matters; 22% talked about recreation
  • 17% talked about their job

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Asked to reflect on their conversations with family and friends in the past week, Americans are most likely to say they discussed family or personal matters. Close to half, 46%, say they talked about such matters, nearly double the percentage mentioning any other topic. Twenty-four percent discussed politics; 22% talked about recreational activities; and 17% talked about their job or work.

Bar graph: Top topics Americans have talked about with friends and family in past week, June 2019.

Among the specific family or personal matters people discussed are their health, school, and pets.

About one-quarter of people who discussed politics -- 6% of all Americans -- mention President Donald Trump specifically.

The most common specific recreational topics people discussed are vacations and travel; sports; cooking and food; and movies, music and books.

In addition to talking about family, politics, recreation and work, significant percentages of Americans also report talking about financial matters (mostly their own finances and income), "the news" (including general mentions of "current events" and the weather), and issues facing the U.S. such as immigration and Iran. Four percent say they talked about their religion and church work.

What Americans Talk About With Their Family and Friends
Thinking about the conversations you had in the past week with friends or family, what are the major things you recall talking about? [OPEN-ENDED]
Family matters
Personal affairs/Affairs of the family 32
Health/Healthcare 7
Life in general 4
Schools/Education 3
Pets 3
Politics (nonspecific) 18
President Trump 6
The government 1
Vacation/Travel 7
Sports 4
Cooking/Restaurants/Dinner 4
Movies/Music/Books 3
Camping/Hunting/Fishing 2
Exercise/Fitness/Dieting 1
Cars/Trucks/Motorcycles 1
Gardening/Planting 1
Television 1
My job/My work 17
Financial matters
Finances/Income 7
The economy 2
Business conditions 2
Home improvement/Construction 1
Current events (general) 5
The weather 4
Immigration/Border control 2
Iran 1
Marijuana legalization/Drugs 1
Climate change/The environment 1
Abortion laws/rights 1
Religion/Church work 4
Other/No opinion 12
Gallup, June 19-30, 2019

These results are based on a June 19-30 Gallup poll, which sought to understand the various topics people discuss in their daily lives. Summarizing the results at a broader level, 77% of Americans talked about personal affairs, including their family, recreation, their job, finances and religion. By comparison, 34% of Americans talked about public affairs -- including politics, issues and news. Roughly one in six -- 17% -- talked about both personal and public affairs.

The question is based on one Gallup asked in 1966, although that version specifically asked people to exclude personal affairs topics in their answers. Eleven percent of Americans in that poll nevertheless mentioned personal matters. The top overall topic in the 1966 poll was the Vietnam War, mentioned by 21%. Some of the topics mentioned in 1966 that are also mentioned today include the respondent's job or work (mentioned by 7%), religion (7%), sports (5%) and the president (Lyndon Johnson, 2%).

Young Adults Disinclined to Talk About Politics

Younger adults are much less likely than older adults to talk about political matters with friends and family. Just 12% of young adults (those between the ages of 18 and 34) discuss politics, compared with 25% of middle-aged adults (35 to 54 years old), and 33% of those aged 55 and older. College graduates are twice as likely to discuss politics as those who did not graduate from college, 36% to 18%.

Young adults' most common discussion topics are family matters (46%), their job (32%), recreational activities (27%) and finances (16%). Young adults are much more likely than older adults to talk about their job.

Women are significantly more likely than men to say they talk about family and personal matters, by 53% to 38%. Those who are married or have young children are no more likely to talk about family or personal matters than those who are not married or do not have young children.

Men are slightly more likely than women to talk about politics or their job, but the differences are not statistically meaningful.

Common Discussion Topics, by Subgroup
Family/Personal Politics Recreation Job/Work Finances
% % % % %
18-34 years old 46 12 27 32 16
35-54 years old 49 25 24 19 13
55+ years old 42 33 16 5 9
Men 38 28 23 21 14
Women 53 20 21 13 11
College graduate
Yes 51 36 25 15 13
No 43 18 20 18 12
Gallup, June 19-30, 2019

Democrats (29%), Republicans (23%) and independents (22%) are about equally likely to discuss politics.


Although the U.S. is divided politically, most Americans do not commonly discuss politics or public affairs with other people. Only about one in three reported talking about such matters in the past week. Young adults are especially unlikely to talk about political matters.

It is unclear from the data whether the more limited discussion of public affairs stems from a lack of interest in the topic or a desire to avoid talking about potentially sensitive topics. Political talk may be especially treacherous at a time when the majority of Americans hold strong opinions about the president.

Rather, Americans are inclined to talk about what is happening in their own lives, specifically about their family, health or other personal matters, their recreational activities, and their jobs.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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