Reading the recent IPSOS Mori report Who Do We Think We Are  provides some fascinating insights into how the nation views itself in 2012. Published in the immediate run up to the Games you might at first be forgiven for thinking that we are a rather gloomy bunch, as a nation we are certainly good at doing pessimism.

However it’s not all one way,  we are it seems a mass of contradictions the report contains revealing insights that suggest at risk of a medal related reference too far that gold is within our reach.

Despite a collective pessimism as individuals we are largely optimistic. We are an increasingly tolerant society, respectful of ethnic and religious difference, less discriminatory of people who are gay.

Some of the stereotypes still hold strong; we love a cup of tea, fish and chips, roast beef and Yorkshires and of course a good curry. We see our best characteristics as our sense of humour and friendliness but we know our shortcomings, as a nation we feel we drink too much.

We have strong regional identities, yet pride in being British is still high compared to national pride when surveyed across other European countries. We take pride in our history, institutions and the Royal Family. The NHS remains the flagship institution and in this Diamond Jubilee year surveys show record satisfaction with HM Queen.

We also seem to be rather harder on ourselves than the outside world; our own perceptions of Britain as a good place to do business for instance appear significantly lower than those held by overseas respondents (particularly the further we move from Europe).

Clearly we can be a grumpy lot at times but the report suggests there is a great foundation of goodwill and positivity on which to build a legacy, now if perhaps we were all to take a leaf from the Team GB training manual and unleash our collective optimism…

Image used under Creative Commons from Topsynette