Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Youth of Yesterday

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Roper did a series of surveys for Fortune magazine that covered a wide range of topics.  One of them involved views of college students.  People were given a list of words, and asked to "pick the three or four that best describe your idea of what the average college student is actually like. (By that I don't mean what they should be). "  Here is the list, rearranged so that it's in order of most to least frequently picked.

Intelligent          47%
Ambitious            41%
Well-informed        33%
Well-mannered        29%
Hard-working         26%
Democratic           21%
Time-wasting         12%
Snobbish              9%
Radical               9%
Conservative          8%
Soft                  6%
Hard-drinking         5%
Over-worked           3%
Immoral               3%

Views were very favorable--"ambitious" could be seen as either positive or negative, but all of the other top choices were unambiguously positive.  Unfortunately, the Roper/Fortune series came to an end in 1949, and that's the only time the question was asked.

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