Today’s Inventory Of Self-Expression

In an era that values self-expression above all else, it’s intriguing to see which parts of life people regard as self-expressive. A RoperASW survey gives some answers (see the chart). Among the choices offered, “brands” was one of the laggards, with 43 percent of respondents seeing them as an expression of self, vs. 48 percent saying brands have “nothing to do with” their selfhood. The only choice faring more poorly was “technology” (35 percent “expression” vs. 48 percent “nothing to do with”). “Job” ranked low, but largely because the category didn’t apply to 25 percent of respondents. Another 42 percent said their jobs are an expression of self, vs. 30 percent saying their jobs have nothing to do with their selves. Given the woeful quality of many current television shows, you might be disturbed to learn that 50 percent of adults think of the shows they watch as an expression of self. In general, women, younger adults, Hispanics and upscale respondents had an above-average propensity for saying they express themselves through their possessions and their activities. One last info-tidbit: In a geographical breakdown of the data, people in the Northeast were more likely to say they express themselves through the brands they purchase (51 percent) than were respondents in the West (29 percent).