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Views of State of Moral Values in U.S. at New Low

Views of State of Moral Values in U.S. at New Low

Story Highlights

  • 54% say the state of moral values in U.S. is poor; 33% only fair
  • 83% think U.S. moral values are getting worse
  • 74% of Republicans say moral values are poor; 97% think they are worsening

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans’ already poor ratings of the state of moral values in the U.S. have fallen further to the lowest point in Gallup’s 22-year trend. The 54% of U.S. adults who rate moral values in the country as “poor” marks a four-percentage-point increase since last year and the first time the reading has reached the majority level.

Another 33% of Americans think U.S. moral values are “only fair,” 10% “good” and 1% “excellent.”


Throughout the trend, Americans have been more negative than positive in their views of the nation's moral values, but the latest readings, from a May 1-24 poll, are substantially worse than the trend averages. Since 2002, an average of 43% of U.S. adults have said the state of moral values is poor, while 38% have rated it as only fair and 18% as excellent or good.

The increased negative rating of moral values is mostly owed to worsening views among independents. The 51% of independents who rate values poorly is up seven points from last year and is the highest recorded for that group. At the same time, Republicans’ and Democrats’ poor moral values ratings have each inched up two points, to 74% and 38%, respectively. The Republican reading is a new high for the group.  


To better understand what specific problems Americans see with moral values, Gallup occasionally asks them to name the most important problem with the state of moral values in the U.S., including in last year’s survey. The top response was the way people treat each other, or consideration of others. This was also the top answer in 2012 when the question was previously asked.

Partisans’ views of the top moral problem differed in 2022, with Democrats almost twice as likely as Republicans to cite a lack of consideration. Republicans were about equally as likely to name a lack of faith or religion as they were to mention a lack of consideration.

Outlook for Moral Values in U.S. Is Pessimistic

In addition to Americans rating moral values in the country worse than before, a record-high 83% think they are getting worse, up five points from last year and 16 points since 2021. The previous high of 82% was recorded in 2007, when 44% of Americans rated moral values as poor. Currently, 12% of Americans think moral values are getting better, which is the lowest percentage since 2008.


Pessimism about moral values edged up in the past year across party groups. Republicans’ outlook for deteriorating values is now at a new high of 97%, while 73% of Democrats and 80% of independents think they are getting worse. Republicans’ pessimism about moral values has been on the rise since Joe Biden took office in 2021. While Democrats’ and independents’ outlooks improved in 2021, they quickly reverted to levels seen during Donald Trump’s presidency.


Bottom Line

Americans’ rating of the state of moral values in the U.S. and their outlook for morality in the future are at their most negative points in 22 years of measurement. While Republicans are more negative than Democrats and independents about the state of moral values and its outlook for the future, negativity has been on the rise among all partisan groups.  

These ratings come at a time of increased gun violence in the U.S., rising reports of disturbances on air flights, altercations between attendees at public meetings, a continued decline in religiosity, and an increasing willingness among elected officials to enact laws to regulate abortion, transgender healthcare and sports participation, and gun ownership.

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