Britishness and…the Stiff Upper Lip

Following on from Ian Hislop’s new series, here’s the latest from YouGov…just one of the points I’ll (have to) cover off at Best of Britannia. Hope to see you there, albeit just as long as you don’t make any public displays of emotion…

The ‘stiff upper lip’ is a world famous expression that refers to what is believed to be the quintessentially British trait of stoicism – but are the upper lips of British people today as stiff as they once were? According to our poll, no.

Asked if British people these days still have a stiff upper lip in terms of being restrained in displaying their emotions, a majority (57%) of Britons say no, they do not, while only 33% say British people do have a stiff upper lip.

Softening upper lip

Meanwhile, 62% of the public also believes that British people have become more emotional in recent decades. Only 14% say British people have become less emotional, and 18% believe they are about the same.

Still stiffer than others

Despite the majority view that the British stiff upper lip is becoming a thing of the past, 57% of the public say that British people are generally less given to displaying their emotions than people from most other countries. A very small proportion (8%) believe Brits are more given to displaying their emotions, and 26% are of the view that British people display their emotions to about the same extent as people from most other countries.

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