Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Towards Religious Groups, Pew 2017

Sponsor(s): Pew Research Center

Principal Investigator(s): Jessica Hamar Martinez, Alan Cooperman, Gregory A. Smith, Besheer Mohamed

Study Dates: January 9-23, 2017

Key Findings:

Pew Research Center report issued in February, 2017 summarized the results of a survey completed January 9-23, 2017 with respondents from Pew's American Trends Panel. The report focuses on perceptions of major religious groups using a "feeling thermometer" rating scale, paralleling a similar question from a Pew June 2014 survey.

Report Findings.

"On the heels of a contentious election year in which partisan politics increasingly divided Americans, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that when it comes to religion, Americans generally express more positive feelings toward various religious groups today than they did just a few years ago. Asked to rate a variety of groups on a 'feeling thermometer' ranging from 0 to 100, U.S. adults give nearly all groups warmer ratings than they did in a June 2014 Pew Research Center survey...."

"Jews and Catholics continue to be among the groups that receive the warmest ratings – even warmer than in 2014."  The average thermometer rating for Jews by survey respondents was 63 in 2014 and 67 in 2017.

Thermometer ratings for Jews decline across age groups of U.S. adults.  Among those age 65 and older, the average rating for Jews is 74.  It drops to 69 among 50-64 year-olds, 64 among 30-39 year-olds, and 62 among those ages 18-29.



Pew Research Center survey conducted January 9-23, 2017 with 4,248 adults who are part of Pew Research’s online American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults. 

Report data based on 3,939 survey respondents whose web version of the questionnaire included a "slider" for the ratings (see below under Sample Notes).

Sample Size: 3,939 respondents used for Thermometer analysis; total sample was 4,248.

Sample Notes:

The American Trends Panel (ATP), created by Pew Research Center, is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults recruited from landline and cellphone random-digit-dial surveys. Panelists participate via monthly self-administered web surveys. Panelists who do not have internet access are provided with a tablet and wireless internet connection. The panel is being managed by Abt SRBI.

Data in this report are drawn from the panel wave conducted Jan. 9 to Jan. 23, 2017, among 4,248 respondents. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 4,248 respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The analysis of the “feeling thermometer” questions is based on the 93% of respondents who received the slider version of the question (N=3,939; see topline for details), and the margin of sampling error for this subset is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Research methodology and panel description are described in detail on pages 14-15 of the complete report.


Response Rates.

Two response rates for the study are presented.

 "The January 2017 wave had a response rate of 81% (4,248 responses among 5,268 individuals in the panel). Taking account of the combined, weighted response rate for the recruitment surveys (10.0%) and attrition from panel members who were removed at their request or for inactivity, the cumulative response rate for the wave is 2.7%."

Study Notes:

The complete Pew report, Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Towards Religious Groups, includes a summary of findings (pp. 1-13), methodology (pp. 14-15), detailed tables (pp. 16-19) and the Topline questionnaire with results (pp. 20-22).

The Topline questionnaire and the Detailed Tables are also available separately from Pew via links on this page.

The 2014 study which first reported the results of the Feeling Thermometer approach is available via the links on this page; the 2017 report includes 2014 and 2017 comparisons.


Pew's 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans and the 2014 American Religious Landscape surveys provide more general information on America's Jewish population.

Language: English


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