US Millennials' Goodness Perception

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What Defines a Good Person - A Perspective Among 20- 35 Year Old's

People 20-35 believe that honesty, reliability, compassion, helping family, and commitment are important values. They do not think that believing in God is necessary to be a good person. These beliefs about what is good are reflected in the age group's attitudes about truth, religion, trust, their parents, charities, and marriage.


  • 77% of those 18-29 claim that honesty is one of their core values. Because Millennials place such strong emphasis on honesty, many suggest "provid[ing] rational for the work you’ve asked [Millennials] to do" and avoiding reasoning like "that's how it's always been done" to earn their respect.
  • Only 29% of those aged 22-37 say that belief in God is necessary to be moral. Part of this is likely due to this demographic being less religious, as well as the larger belief that being obedient is not the same as being good.
  • Seventy-four percent of this age group names reliability as one of the most important values. Millennials agree that the most important quality in a leader is trustworthiness. This intense value for reliability could be related to the overall distrust this age group has towards most authority, making anything trustworthy stand out.
  • While only 45% of this age group names starting a family as a priority of their own, 74% of people 18-29 say helping family is an important value, likely referring to the family they were raised with. A recent UCLA study found that people 18-30 prioritized their parents over their friends. This appreciation for family is reflected in the high proportion of people 25-35 living at home—about 15%, significantly higher than previous generations.
  • Of people ages 18-29, 72% think that compassion is one of the most important values. This is supported in that 84% of millennials give to charity and 66% say that they would like a company if it donated some of its profits to charity.
  • The most common causes for millennials to donate to are worship, children, social services, and health, indicating that this age group sees good in advancing these causes. Others who donate to or support these interests would probably be considered good people by this age group.
  • Commitment is another major value for this age group with 72% giving it significant importance. This dedication to commitment is reflected in the low divorce rates among this population. While millennials cite many reasons for marrying older, like financial insecurity and not being ready to settle down, they generally come back to respecting the commitment inherent to marriage.


First, we looked for the main values of this age group and found honesty, reliability, compassion, helping family, and commitment. From there, we looked for related actions that might expand and support this. For instance, we found that many Millennials donate to charity and say they would like a company that donates to charity, which supports their respect for compassion. Then, we looked into the charities that Millennials donate to, as they probably believe that these are good causes and that anyone who furthers these causes would be a good person.

We assume that this age group will think people are good if they reflect their values (i.e., people 20-35 value honesty, therefore they would think that honest people are good). This is why our research was mainly targeted at values, as these are essentially traits that this age group perceives to be good.