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Americans are more upbeat about their days than people in most rich countries, new data from Pew Research Center’s annual Global Attitudes survey suggest.
Pew surveyors typically ask respondents how their day is going as a first question in order to start a conversation and help the respondents become more comfortable with the interviewer. In the process, however, Pew has gathered a massive amount of data on how people in different countries say their day is going -- 48,643 responses from 44 countries over the past year alone. About two-thirds of people across countries said they were having a typical day in 2014, while 27% said their day was going particularly well, and 7% said their day was going poorly.
People in poorer countries were more likely than those in richer nations to say the day was a good one; the chart above shows a slight negative correlation between saying the day is a good one and gross domestic product per capita. However, the U.S. is a major outlier, with the highest GDP per capita among countries surveyed and a disproportionately high measure of reportedly good days. Forty one percent of Americans surveyed said they were having a good day, while 49 percent said the day was typical and 8% said it was bad.
Africans and Latin Americans were more likely to say it was a good day, with Nigeria, Colombia, Nicaragua, Kenya and Brazil all giving particularly positive responses. Bad days were the most common in Jordan (27%) and Egypt (32%).
Pew doesn't speculate on the reasons for these trends, but it's likely they depend both on how respondents feel and how comfortable they are with telling a stranger they're having a bad day. Whatever the reason, Americans come off as atypically cheerful.