What makes a nation patriotic?
It could be expected that national pride stems from contented citizens living fulfilled and joyful lives in their own cherished nation. However, Gal Ariely’s recently published cross-country study in Identities, which examines the social and political contexts in which patriotism is strong, finds that this may not be the case.
Over 150,000 respondents from 93 countries were asked “How proud of your country are you?” A hefty 50%+ replied with strong expressions of national pride. Only 33 countries expressed a low level of national pride.
Patriotism was more prevalent in countries with income imbalances. A notable correlation was found between countries suffering conflict/terrorism and strong national pride, suggesting common suffering promotes a strong sense of solidarity.
Significantly, the results revealed more globalized, well-developed nations to be less patriotic. This is likely due to a global flow of information and cultural values, and a unified Europe, giving rise to cosmopolitan lifestyles and a shared sense of identity across borders.
Areily concludes, “By and large, higher levels of patriotism occur in countries whose citizens are worse off….Taking into account the fact that politicians, pundits and philosophers frequently describe patriotism as a mandatory political commodity, this study suggests that national pride is related to a less attractive environment than its advocates tend to assume.”
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