The differences between America and other nations have long been a subject of fascination and study for social scientists, dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville, the early 19th century French political thinker who described the United States as “exceptional.”

Nearly 200 years later, Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. When Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries last spring, 57 percent of Americans disagreed with the statement “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a higher percentage than most other nations and far above the global median of 38 percent.