New Zealanders are three times as likely to think the world is getting worse than that it's getting better, a new survey has found.
The online survey of 1000 New Zealanders by Australian firm Lonergan Research has found that 50 per cent of New Zealanders think the world is a worse place today than when they were younger, and only 17 per cent think it's better.
About a fifth (22 per cent) of those aged 18 to 24 - the most optimistic group in the survey - think the world is getting better.
A matching survey of 1000 Australians found that 'Generation Y', those aged 25 to 34, feel slightly more positive than their Kiwi contemporaries. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of the Australians in that age group think the world is better now than when they were younger, but only 21 per cent of New Zealanders share that view.
However, only 16 per cent of the over-50s on both sides of the Tasman think the world has become a better place.
People who thought the world was a worse place today were asked whether they thought this was because of more automation, less human interaction, people becoming more self-centred and greedy, moral decline, more corruption, people becoming lazier, the economy getting worse, more natural disasters or something else.
The most popular answers were that people were becoming more self-centred and greedy (80 per cent), moral decline (69 per cent), the economy getting worse (64 per cent) and less human interaction (60 per cent).
Half (49 per cent) still felt part of "a close-knit community'' and only 46 per cent don't know most of their neighbours, implying that more than half do.
New Zealanders' biggest fears for the next 80 years were environmental: 84 per cent were concerned that the variety of wildlife might disappear and 77 per cent were concerned that enjoying the great outdoors might disappear.
Most said technological changes so far had been positive for communications and consumer choice, and 48 per cent felt that things would only get better with every technological improvement in the future.
Almost a third (30 per cent) said they would love to see robots replace humans if it would end human error, and 32 per cent said they would welcome a robot into their family if one was designed to be capable of emotion.
Two-thirds (65 per cent) believed New Zealand would no longer be part of the Commonwealth 80 years from now.
The survey was conducted for multinational eyewear company OPSM to mark its 80th year in Australasia.
Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said successive older generations for thousands of years had believed the generations coming after them were behaving worse than they had.
"The thing that interested me in this survey was that people thought it was a worse place because people were more self-centred and greedy,'' he said.
"I wonder whether there was a global financial crisis influence on that. We are right in the middle of something in which the finance sectors and the banks have been seen as encouraging people to be greedy.
"So I saw this as a glass-half-full message that people wanted to go back to stronger community values.''