Most commonly, respondents see a lack of respect for other people and a more general decline in moral values and standards. But the responses are quite varied. Specifically, some blame the perceived decline on poor parenting — specifically, parents not instilling proper values in their children. Some cite the poor examples of U.S. leaders in government and business who find themselves embroiled in ethical or moral scandals. And some reference larger societal factors, such as rising crime and violence, Americans turning away from God, church and religion, and the breakdown of the typical two-parent family.

Another theme permeating through the responses is blaming individuals themselves for the moral decline, either by not taking responsibility for their own behaviors (7%), not caring (6%), being out for themselves (4%), and for their greed (3%).