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Emotional Intelligence must not be limited to academic punditry or entrepreneurial conquest … | LinkedIn

EQ Wordle Paul

We can all agree that extremely intelligent people can disagree and sometimes succumb to irrational feelings, misunderstandings and conflict. It is not enough to be smart. It is also important to get along with people, to understand them, and to express ourselves in pleasant ways that help us all get along.

We all at one time or another let our emotions carry us to places we thought we could never reach and some places and situations we never intended to be in. Emotions are an important part of our successes and failures and that includes the emotions that drive the actions of others who impact our journey. It is hard to imagine that learning to manage our emotions and to better understand the emotions of others is not an extremely desirable thing that we can pursue in a straightforward manner. But for many it is not. The concepts that cover this important topic, “emotional literacy” and “emotional competence” can be summarized in the operational definition of emotional intelligence.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ): “… the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. We posit that life tasks such as those described by Cantor and her colleagues and constructive thinking defined by Epstein are laden with affective information, that this affective information must be processed (perhaps differently than the cognitive information), and that individuals may differ in the skill with which they do so. Emotional intelligence is also a part of Gardner’s view of social intelligence, which he refers to as the personal intelligences. Like social intelligence, the personal intelligences (divided into inter- and intra­ personal intelligence) include knowledge about the self and about others. One aspect of the personal intelligence relates to feelings and is quite close to what we call “emotional intelligence.” John Mayer and Peter Salovey, 1990

Emotional intelligence (also known as “EQ”) is an idea that grew up in academia, was popularized on pop psychology shelves and, more recently, has been made useful in leadership development and organizational management circles. From its conception, it was juxtaposed to the idea of Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Its lofty intellectual beginnings notwithstanding, EQ has been embraced by so many for so many reasons that its early paradigmatic intentions may now be lost to the many.

If the intelligence scale we call “IQ” has been controversial, EQ has been equally misunderstood. Even if we can all agree on a definition and on appropriate applications of EQ theory, it’s behavioral health benefits cannot be implemented through quick short-term programs nor can it’s salutary outcomes be made sustainable without a significant transformation in our health education and K through 12 school educational systems. Many of the individuals, that could benefit from the competencies that learning and having good EQ promises, are neither fortunate enough to access the education nor in social circumstances conducive to self improvement pursuits. In a more mindful and egalitarian world, more complex ideas may achieve greater buoyancy and utility. EQ is no exception.

Popular ideas live in the minds of the many and, perhaps because of their simplicity and utility, become sustainable and prolific for both producers and consumers. The dilemma is, however, that society often needs ideas that are more complex in order to solve and address vexing modern problems. To Goleman’s credit, in part due to his efforts, EQ is being applied through his numerous consulting activities and, for example, in his supportive role helping to organize a set of conferences that led to the publication of a 1997 book by John Mayer and Peter Salovey (Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications) addressing possible emotional intelligence and social skills applications to address child development and conflict resolution in school systems (the academic team that initially developed the “theory” that led to EQ as a useful framework for researching and teaching the role that emotions play in achieving personal, social, and organizational success). Aside from this collaboration, though, much of what is popularly understood about EQ has been disseminated through Goleman’s consulting and pop psychology success NYTs best seller style.

Academic ideas and constructs more often tend to be quite different from popular ideas. They differ in that their currency tends to require intellectual specialization, academic environments akin to monasteries, and individuals with a broad understanding of the numerous currents and variables that give academic products their place in the refereed conversation of the nation’s professorial ranks. Emotional intelligence is an important flashpoint for forces with differing origins yet, ideally, common destinations–thinking individuals wanting to promote social good and noble ends. Daniel Goleman and Adam Grant are two such forces; they are social communicative pundits in the ongoing tug of war that will define the proper and productive utility, and place, of emotional intelligence, as a leadership and workforce development concept. According to Grant, Goleman goes too far in trying to apply EQ to business intelligence, heretofore an area reserved for things more mathematical and tangible. Goleman has been given a professional home on the pages of the prestigious Harvard Business Review, an instrument of both Grant and Goleman’s alma matter. A key question would be: Is EQ being misapplied or is the environment where it needs to be applied unready for its heuristic promises? Given the challenges, faced or ignored, by today’s business and organizational leaders, can we afford to dismiss this popular tool?

Adam Grant published a provocative article on LinkedIn formulating a critique of Goleman’s more global approach to EQ. Unfortunately, Grant’s article includes academic claims and posturing that is clouded by his overall trivial tone. We need a greater focus on academic rigor and the pursuit of more robust theoretical constructs that can yield progress towards EQ program development and implementation, in the area of behavioral health, for example. This seriousness seems to be lacking at the present time–certainly in Grant’s article (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140930125543-69244073-emotional-intelligence-is-overrated?trk=prof-post).

We may be exceedingly amazed to see academics, intellectuals, pundits, and intellectual entrepreneurs spar, in the marketplace of ideas, in order to promote their worth and place in the market. The debate seems omnipresent as it crosses many borders through the Harvard Business Review, on blogs, and here on LinkedIn. Certainly, Adam Grant steps into the breach and tries to hold Goleman to task for what he sees as academic obfuscation. Interestingly, he borders on ad hominem intentions and plain teasing. Perhaps Adam Grant is pandering to this electronic social media medium and finds such rhetorical tools necessary. Perhaps the conversation that is sought here with leaders understands that today’s leaders are not Plato’s philosopher kings. Indeed, Grant does not seem to see the business of management outside of specific emotional terrain so touchy feely as Goleman would. It is plain to see that Daniel Goleman’s place is secure, as the high priest of pop psychology, because his Ph.D. in Psychology and his perch on the NYTs allowed him to popularly run with the “EQ” concept and build an entrepreneurial empire which may outlive him and the rest of us. To be sure, the spoils from the ensuing popular media endeavors have favored Goleman’s lot, EQ’s intellectual forefathers have not similarly gained (John Mayer and Peter Salovey). This does not bode well for future intellectuals lacking entrepreneurial prowess. You will find Mr. Grant on LinkedIn though, promoting his intellectual wares; he’ll do just fine.

Interestingly, we can look at Salovey’s dissertation from way back in 1986 for the early intellectual ground from which the concept of EQ grew (P. Salovey, The Effects of Mood and Focus of Attention on Self-Relevant Thoughts and Helping Intention, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Yale University, 1986). We can also look at the role of popular psychology in our culture to find similar ground for Goleman’s efforts and success. Mayer and Salovey are the original promoters of the ideas and of the intellectual history which gave intellectual buoyancy to the concept. Daniel Goleman refers to his encounter with the work of these two men in a passing way and diminishes their importance by alluding to the lack of stature of the journal in which they published the original 1990 article “Emotional Intelligence.” Goleman has turned the work of these men into a cottage industry and his published retort to Grant shows his ability to popularly promote the term “EQ” in contrast to feebly defending it. Perhaps Goleman is safe behind the popularity curtain always protecting his wizard like reputation. Up and coming scholar, Adam Grant, rightly exposes Goleman’s use of the concept as less relevant outside the parameters of academic rigor and of the realms of possible scientific discipline and emotive applications. The academic trial only seems to be beginning, though, and the popular court is woefully incapable of sequestering an appropriate jury to reach a useful verdict that would bridge the cerebral gap between academic thinkers, intellectual entrepreneurs and the laboring rank and file. Given EQ’s arguably heuristic potential and the millions that are being made from its application or misapplication, we can’t have some thinking of it as business and the rest of us as “nobody’s business.”

The concept has grown to mean so many things to so many people that it now means specifically very little within the confines of academic, intellectual or theoretical query. Salovey and Mayer’s contributions to modern management and leadership are now popularly distant from their original rigorous work. The popular development of that work may possibly have obstructed the original potential of Salovey and Mayer’s ideas and constructs, further obfuscating the road to needed progressive managerial and leadership applications. Goleman has made it common coin and personal gain–neither being efforts which have contributed significantly in taking the concept further along its original intellectual journey; nor has it helped in the building of necessary theoretical constructs that can give us an applied framework that allows for clarity regarding how and when it is useful as a heuristic model for organizational, group, or individual purposes. To be sure, Goleman now makes these claims; but his arguments are devoid of the rigor evident in the original works of the real pioneers from which the potentially useful constructs originate.

Centuries have passed since the monastic catacombs of the original academy, with its religious literati and the ensuing work of the eventually enlightened philosophers and scientists. That is work that was preserved and discriminatingly shared through coveted books and into modernity. But all that has now changed and continues to change. Academia is only one voice in a cacophony of social and intellectual media now fueled by e-commerce and consumed on billions of instantaneous screens. Ideas are now increasingly, and literally, in the clouds, ubiquitous cannon fodder for daily consumption; their value and retention seems now to be more tethered to the common cause than to the lofty undertaking. Can you imagine that?

More via Emotional Intelligence must not be limited to academic punditry or entrepreneurial conquest … | LinkedIn.

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Thank You, Rolling Stone | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi has been a loud and purposeful voice for Rolling Stone Magazine…  Think what you will of his ideological proclivities, the man is engaging, entertaining and has attitude.

The following is his farewell letter to the Rollig Stone family of readers, writers and all around rebel rousers.

“Today is my last day at Rolling Stone. As of this week, I’m leaving to work for First Look Media, the new organization that’s already home to reporters like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.”

More via Thank You, Rolling Stone | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone.

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What’s So Bad About Income Inequality?

Adam Smith played an important part in our understanding of how society affects the evolution of civil society and business.  As mathematics and reason improved economic theory through the development of rational choice theory, econometrics and mathematical modeling, economists took an important role at the governance table of most democracies.

The current deep and long recession and the troubling recovery, however, have cast some doubt on prevailing economic theories and their pundits and disciples.   Perhaps the turning points were the Enron scandal and Madoff caper because the inequality that pervades America today is not going away.  Somehow we have arrived at the moment when we are looking at values and relative differences between those who climb the ladder and those for whom there seems to be no ladder at all.  As America continues to be decided on ideological grounds and social space and social relations continue to be segregated in terms of education, access to higher paying jobs and wealth, it becomes increasingly difficult to see an American future where a large middle class supports the notion that everyone who tries hard can make it here.  That is a significant problem that is now seemingly being institutionalized as the American economy fails to create a necessarily clear and reasonable path between birth and upward mobility.

“One interpretation of the Pareto Principle, which suggests that 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth, is that there\’s no point in being angry about that inequality. Maybe the 20% is doing better than you because they went to college and you didn\’t — but that\’s not hurting you.

Dr. Deaton: I agree with the Pareto Principle, but you can be hurt by that kind of inequality, and that can happen in many different ways. If a bunch of people get extremely rich but nothing happens to your income, that\’s OK. But if they use their wealth to start buying the government, for instance, then it\’s not OK, because you don\’t get your share in the democracy anymore.

I\’ll give you an example from the U.S. right now. If you\’re a drug manufacturer and you come up with a blockbuster drug that does very well, eventually the patent runs out. Your business could let the patent run out and let the generics manufacture that drug, which is what\’s supposed to happen. But your company could also spend a lot of money lobbying Congress to get an extension of your patent. That\’s an example of blocking equality, and it hurts people. And economists have been very weak on that.

Like everyone, we economists specialize in what we do. So economists think we\’re the gods of income; we tend to think about well-being in terms of income, and we don\’t worry too much about the other things that contribute to well-being, such as health, education, or participating in a democratic society. But not having access to an important medicine doesn\’t show up as a share of GDP.

When we think about well-being, we can\’t just think about wealth. That\’s one of the things we\’ve learned from the Gallup World Poll — how important many other elements are to a person\’s satisfaction with his life.”

via What’s So Bad About Income Inequality?.

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The Curse of Reading and Forgetting : The New Yorker

For those of you who visit our blog (The Policy ThinkShop) regularly, you must have noticed that we often promote articles from the New Yorker magazine.  Recently a well written article caught the eye of one of our researchers which was written by a young man () about the pleasures and vagaries of reading.  We thought it interesting because the writing seems mature and well thought out and greatly belies the relatively young age of the author.  This juxtaposition of age and naiveté against the well written ideas and use of language by this otherwise young and relatively inexperienced fellow calls into question the veracity of the magazine as a source of reliable information, wit and wisdom for the more discerning reader.

Are we being naive ourselves because this article and its author’s product hint at entertainment and literary skill? They seem to do so without the import and weight that time and wisdom bring to the often important weekly topics that are assigned to young writes today.  These are seemingly hurried assignments by magazine Execs that have to be creative and prolific at a rate only made possible by perhaps young and creative kids passing as the wise and testy intellectuals of yesterday’s paper media.

Read the article below and come back to the Policy ThinkShop

The Curse of Reading and Forgetting : The New Yorker

and tell us what you think…

“Part of my suspicion of rereading may come from a false sense of reading as conquest. As we polish off some classic text, we may pause a moment to think of ourselves, spear aloft, standing with one foot up on the flank of the slain beast. Another monster bagged. It would be somehow less heroic, as it were, to bend over and check the thing’s pulse. But that, of course, is the stuff of reading—the going back, the poring over, the act of committing something from the experience, whether it be mood or fact, to memory. It is in the postmortem where we learn how a book …”

More via The Curse of Reading and Forgetting : The New Yorker.

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Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong – From: Rolling Stone Magazine

Imagine that you live in a bubble and there is only one radio in that bubble which filters all the news and distributes it in the bubble via many mediums and makes it look and sound like many truths–necessary untruths.  Rolling Stone magazine has a very interesting take on the recent media frenzy over American raised terror.

As far back as the times of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane (Timur), ruthless conquerors have struck fear in the hearts of their conquest targets and their progeny.  Much of what passes for news analysis these days is well anointed by ideological and psychological overtones that not be grounded in fact or circumstance. The Policy ThinkShop team invites you to visit the following link to explore a sobering argument addressing recent media handling of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the reasons behind the bombing perpetrators …

Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

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The American Dream Hangs in the Balance as Our Sense of Security and Peace is Shattered: Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

A national study released this week tracks American public opinion, documenting our feelings and fears about violence and terrorism.  We do not feel safe and we are trusting one another less.  Symbolically and physically we want to close the borders.  We can choose to believe that we must all feel this way or we can redefine who we are in a way that makes us stronger.  It depends who “we” are.

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade.” The Pew Foundation study reflects the sad truth that our collective American perception of civil society is changing.  Perhaps this time we are not only changing but morphing.   If we learn to accept and assimilate what is different then we can become a new America.  But who is doing the learning and who is becoming remains to be seen in an America that seems to be digressing to Michael’s Harrington’t bifurcated America.  Without a positive vision  of the future there cannot be a collective “we” to embrace it nor a collective image of an America we can all love and want to preserve.

If we are going to survive as a nation some of us will have to loosen our grip on the past so that we can all collectively embrace the future.  But today’s media events and philanthropic facts are not hopeful.

The study sounds an eerie warning that we are fundamentally changing. We seem to be resigned to constant fear and violence.  “We” seem  to be unable to take refuge in “our” symbolic “community psychological blanket” because we have become afraid of one another.  But who is this “we” and who is “the other”? There are so many of us “perceiving” from so many directions and backgrounds that a vision of a common America now seems more distant than ever.  Public opinion seems to be increasingly shaped not by what we see but what we believe.

Who are we?  Who are we becoming?  Who have we been?   What have we become?

How do we take stock of all that is happening around us and start a sensible conversation about what is wrong and how to fix it?  Social media has made a global conversation more possible but, perhaps ironically, local communion now seems more difficult and a sense of “we” or community seems increasingly vapid, vacuous and devoid of anima–tasteless, unintelligible and dispirited.  The roaring 20s, rocking 50s and the tumultuous 60s seem distant now …  We seem to be drifting into this millennium without  a compass.

American identity is changing and the center or the “typical” or “average” America seems to have disappeared.  Not only is our political discourse moved to the extremes, but our American identity seems to have morphed into fragments–dispersed among a cacophony of interests, groups and pervasive xenophobia which feed public reaction and drown out reason.  Immigration, good health and guns strangle our ability to form a consensus and find our way into this new millennium.

America is drifting but no one seems to know the direction which we are moving towards.  The collective and cumulative acts of public violence and the thousands of young Americans coming back from violent, and confusing, foreign wars does not bode well for our present or future…

The baby boom babies are now trading in their infancy diapers and lack of patience for yet another bout of rebelliousness that depends on their increasingly irrelevant 60s ideology undergirded by optimism that is now increasingly undermined by myopia and their incontinent mortality.  The ultimate victory for this now passing generation may be the imminent legalization of marijuana as a palliative reward to sustain their now eminent twilight.  Event in their collective final curtain call they can find solace in their seemingly Pyrrhic victory to medicate once again when confronted with the oncoming abyss we have for generations now called modernity and social change.

The Great Generation of past “moral” wars has left us and the Baby Boomers are now in the drivers seat.  But where are they taking us? They were the flower children and the great protesting worriers who tore down all the sacred cows and left us in a pragmatic and hedonistic middle without manners, caution or respect … Our cultural fabric seems incapable of tying together the many immigrant currents that now makeup the American mosaic.  We are the world  and the newcomers seem as desperate and dislocated as the rural kids who seemingly grow up in happy, stable, homogenous America only to turn against it in our theaters, our elementary schools and our federal buildings.

The middle is gone and shows little evidence of returning…  The 1% seem to have somehow held on to a greater percent of the nation’s wealth, while an increasing number of American families struggle with uncertainty and economic stagnation or, worse, slip back.   This recession, the ongoing local and internationally motivated terrorist and gun violence is also shaking our very foundations.

Civil liberties, political movements, and the American sense of who we are, how well we are doing and where we are going all seem increasingly clouded by an ongoing malaise.   We get nervous by what we see and need to look closer and more often to calm our nerves.  We are afraid at home and seem to need to go oversees to die in wars that have a quiet beginning and seemingly no end.  We cannot get the public spectacle out of our mind’s eye. A malaise that seems to be the product of public violence and media competition.   We live under a perpetual tempest in a proverbial psychological tea pot of public attention cannibalism in an ever hurried frenzy over delivering pictures and impressions.  The relatively few hold onto control of the public megaphone and preach to an increasingly disappearing no longer hegemonic nor numerous “majority”.  With moral certitude and  economic hubris they wield a shiny and expensive, now digital and omnipresent, printing press that constantly showers us with a practical if simply public truth.  They create, perpetuate and feed the seemingly insatiable public consumption we all have for news we need to calm our curiosity and nerves…  The world has become so complex that we need to  be numbed but the glare of the media industry will not let us rest.  The price we pay seems to be pessimism. America is ceasing to be optimistic and welcoming… It is unsettled, perhaps worried and content to close the door on our no longer widely shared dreams of exceptionalism, manifest destiny and international policeman.  Are we trading in our moral courage for a veneer of contentment?

At last we may look to the facts and find refuge in Pew’s enlightenment through facts and figures that may light the way…  What else can we do?  That depends on who we really are …  and who we are is up to all of us to define…  We must confront the ugly facts but we can confront them while grasping a larger and more unifying truth.  What that truth is remains to be seen.  In the meantime, let’s keep on working on it together.

Keep learning and thinking together here at the Policy ThinkShop ….

The Pew article and a link follow:

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade. And the bombings drew far more public attention than any terrorist event since Sept. 11, 2001, which 78% reported following very closely in mid-October of that year.”

PP_13.04.22_futureTerrorism-300

“While the Boston bombings riveted most Americans, the incident appeared to confirm the public’s long-held belief that occasional terrorist acts are to be expected. Over the past decade, majorities have consistently said that “occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future.” This sentiment has spiked to 75% in the wake of the Boston bombings from 64% a year ago and now matches the previous high of 74% in 2003.”

via Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

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Most Muslims in Region Reject Violence Against Civilians – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

The Pew Forum on Religion continues to bring us facts and figures to enlighten our view of the religious world which is often clouded by a sensationalist media and the rose colored lenses of young ambitious journalists trying to move up the career ladder or older ones stuck in yesterday’s phobias and mired in a short and myopic view of a changing modern world where the acts of the few motivate and move the masses through the loud megaphone that is our entertainment driven media establishment…. Read the Pew article and tell us what you think…

“A new Pew Research Center survey report finds high levels of concern about religious extremism among Muslims in the North Caucasus area of Russia and the neighboring Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The survey also finds that few Muslims across the region support the use of violence against civilians in the name of Islam, though there is somewhat more support for suicide bombing and similar violence among Muslims in Kyrgyzstan than in Russia or Kazakhstan.”

via Most Muslims in Region Reject Violence Against Civilians – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

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Equating Islam with terrorism – chicagotribune.com

When the media feeds xenophobia, sensationalism, ethnocentrism and religious bigotry, the crazies and the extremists win.  The crazies and the extremists are such a minute minority but their acts are so big and their intentions are to cloud our judgement and make us crazy.  The media’s handling of these acts magnifies them and makes these pitiful bigots super heroes, if evil ones.  They become larger than life and feed our need to catch and conquer the proverbial boogyman.  Read the following article by a Chicago journalist for some clarity and what is happening to us every time we over state the role of religion in violent acts that are perpetrated by people who in the end are not very religious at all…

“Before we knew anything about the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, we knew that he “recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day.” This piece of information was placed in the lead of an Associated Press article published as the police were still on the hunt for Tsarnaev’s younger brother and alleged accomplice, Dzhokhar.

As the day went on with increasing panic and an intensifying sense of terror emanating from television and computer screens across America, and news outlets scrambled to release sound bites and tweetable articles with any information they could scrounge up on …”

More via Equating Islam with terrorism – chicagotribune.com.

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State of the Union 2013 and Public Opinion | Pew Research Center The President to the Republicans: Boogie oogie oogie!

The Pew Foundation’s research arm did a nice job on a survey on “the State of the State of the Union Address.”  It appears that President Obama is riding a tremendous popularity and approval wave into a second term that is already characterized by a buoyed economy with clear skies ahead.  The President’s victory on the fiscal cliff seems to have sealed the deal, as the President enters his second term with the Republicans in shambles and, perhaps more importantly, with Americans believing in this two term President the opposition tried to paint as a boogyman.  The President seems to be smiling on, like the baby boomer that he is, saying: “Boogie oogie oogie!”

“President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the nation on Tues., Feb. 12. A survey released ahead of his speech found that 43% of the public views the president’s address as about as important as past years’ addresses, and a third (32%) say Obama’s speech will be more important than those in past years.

Here’s a roundup of Pew Research findings across 10 of the biggest public policy issues:

The Economy

The economy and jobs remain the public’s top two priorities for the White House and Congress.

57% of Americans (and 74% of Republicans) say that President Obama won the battle over the “fiscal cliff.”

Americans took a dim view of the fiscal cliff deal, saying it would hurt: the economy (46%), people like themselves (52%), efforts to curb the deficit (44%).

Read more about Pew Research findings on the economy

Debt and Deficit

72% of Americans now say reducing the deficit is a top priority, up from 53% in Jan. 2009, including 84% of Republicans, 67% of Democrats and 71% of independents.

Majorities of Americans oppose most deficit reduction measures, including reducing funding for education (77% disapprove), reducing transportation funding (67%) and reducing funding to help low-income people (58%).

There are wide partisan gaps on many debt reduction proposals, including reducing military defense spending (+35 points Democrats) and reducing funding to help low-income people (+29 points Republicans).

74% say a combination of program cuts and tax increases is the best way to reduce the deficit.

Read more about Pew Research findings on the debt and deficit

The Middle Class

The median income for a middle-income, three-person household fell to $69,487 in 2010 from $72,956 in 2000 (in 2011 dollars.) Median net worth among the middle-income tier fell 28% to $93,150 in 2010 from $129,582 in 2000.

85% of those in the middle class say it is more difficult today than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.

The middle class blamed their difficulties on: Congress (62%), banks and financial institutions (54%) and large corporations (47%).

Middle-class adults say they are: Democrats (34%), Republicans (25%) and independents (35%); conservative (39%), moderate (35%) and liberal (22%).

Read more about Pew Research findings on the middle class

Gun Control

51% of Americans say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 45% say it is more important to protect gun rights.

47% say mass shootings reflect broader societal problems, 44% call them isolated acts of troubled individuals.

There is broad public support for background checks for private and gun show sales (85%) and laws preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns (80%).

There are large partisan divides on creating a federal database to track gun sales (35-point gap, Democrats favor), implementing a ban on assault-style weapons (25-point gap, Democrats favor) or having more teachers and school officials with guns in schools (33-point gap, Republicans favor).

Read more about Pew Research findings on gun control

U.S. Foreign Policy

83% of Americans say that “we should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home,” up 10 points since 2002.

40% say the U.S. relies on military strength too much to achieve its foreign policy goals, 44% say about the right amount and 10% say too little.

63% say the U.S. should be less involved in Middle East leadership changes.

Americans largely approve of the use of drones to target extremists, unlike most other nations surveyed.

71% say defending the nation from terrorism is a top priority.

60% support withdrawing troops from Afghanistan “as soon as possible.”

Read more about Pew Research findings on foreign policy

via State of the Union 2013 and Public Opinion | Pew Research Center.

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