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Americans see themselves as looking to the future, not the past, CBS News poll finds

When it comes to being nostalgic about the past or looking ahead to the future, most Americans say they tend to look forward, according to a new CBS News poll.

When asked what type person they think of themselves as, 71% said they were someone who looked to the future, while just 19% said they were someone who is nostalgic about the past.

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Americans with more of a past to look back on were more likely to be nostalgic. Just 11% of adults 18-34 said they tend to be nostalgic, but the rate rose to 29% for adults 65 and older. Still, the majority of seniors, 62%, said they tend to look forward rather than look back.

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What sorts of things make people nostalgic for the past? For four in 10 Americans, it's music. Music ranked first as the thing that makes people the most nostalgic, ahead of a place they've been before, and far ahead of both food and clothing.

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This poll was conducted by telephone March 9-14, 2021 among a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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