Saint Leo Poll Shows Americans Will Make New Years Resolutions

December 18, 2017

Resolutions on a sheet More than one-quarter of Americans say they will make New Year’s resolutions, according to a new survey released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (http://polls.saintleo.edu). The poll, conducted online November 19-24, 2017, sampled 1,000 adults nationwide.

This year’s poll shows 29.8 percent of respondents say they plan to make resolutions, which is up slightly from 27.2 percent in 2016. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in either direction.

Traditional New Year’s resolutions held steady, the poll shows, with top responses being: lose weight (55.7 percent); save more money (56 percent); travel more (29.5 percent); and spending more time with family (26.5 percent). But 4.4 percent say they resolve to spend less time with family, a percentage that is up from 2016’s response of 0.4 percent. Poll respondents were allowed to give multiple responses as to which resolutions they are likely to make.

Vacationing more and finding a new job ranked in the top five responses with 29.9 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. These were up significantly from 2016 when 23.2 percent said they resolved to vacation more and 20.2 percent said they would look for a new job.

Photo of Christopher Wolfe

“At their core, most New Year’s resolutions seek to create a positive change in some aspect of life; most often an area that has caused worry, shame, regret. . .we make resolutions to create the chance to change these foibles and missteps in the next year,” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, associate professor of psychology at Saint Leo University.

It is a hallmark within positive psychology that humans are innately striving to become better, Wolfe said.  “A father of the ideology, Abraham Maslow proposed that humans striving toward this better self, must do so by attending to the many needs of the individual along the way—a hierarchy of needs.”

In the recent Saint Leo poll, “we find that the desire to lose weight remains a top goal for more than half of respondents,” Wolfe said. “Good health is a necessary base level, in this theory, for achieving all other rungs on the ladder toward a better self and therefore makes sense as a top resolution across the last several polls.”

Among those who say they will make New Year’s resolutions, 46.7 percent of Hispanics responded “yes,” followed by African-Americans at 44 percent, and whites at 23 percent. Among age groups, the poll shows 49.2 percent in the 18-to-35 age group will make resolutions while 31.6 percent of those age 36 to 55 will do so, and just 16.2 percent of those older than 56 will formulate resolutions.

“Those identifying within a minority culture may feel more compelled toward a need to create positive change as a result of fewer opportunities or the real or perceived feelings of inequality,” Wolfe said. “Does being a member of the dominant cultural group in the United States in some way protect or detract from the need to resolve for some change?”

Wolfe said he found the age gap in the poll results interesting, too. “More millennials are making positive resolutions as opposed to the generation of their parents,” he commented.