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Cool, competent, but not necessarily wiser

Swiss army recruits have a high opinion of themselves

(Keystone Archive)

A large majority of young Swiss adults have self-confidence and a desire to learn, according to the latest survey of youth and army recruits.

Respondents said they were prepared to take on new responsibilities, but felt they owed little to society. Few were interested in politics.

Titled "Cool, competent and not a bit wiser", the Swiss Federal Survey of Adolescents by Zurich University asked more than 20,000 people to provide a self-assessment of their abilities in a broad range of areas, as well as of their people skills.

The study's authors found wide discrepancies among the answers, which they said were often influenced by the level of education, sex and cultural background.

Young men said they were average or above average in all categories; self-evaluation, ability to cooperate with others, learning skills, social responsibility and interest and understanding of politics.

Women gave a varying opinion of themselves depending on the subject. They said they were more aware of their responsibility to society and fellow human beings than men.

Women are also more likely to take into account their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their feelings.

Politics for men

But in contrast, the males surveyed said they were able to live better with disappointment and stress. They are also more knowledgeable about politics and environmental issues.

Both young men and women with a high level of education said in general that they were ready to take on more responsibility.

Young German-speaking Swiss believe more strongly than their French or Italian counterparts that they can achieve their goals, and make a valuable contribution to society. Swiss-Germans are also more interested in politics and science.

Italian-speakers rated their self-worth the highest and are more performance driven than Swiss-Germans or French. Swiss-Italians also have more sympathy for the rights of immigrants.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The results are based on a survey of 22,757 male and female army recruits, and 1,511 non-recruits between the ages 18-22.
The study was carried out by the University of Zurich.

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