Independent Humanists: Infographic, Narrative & Methodology


The Independent Humanists Behaviour Group are characterised by their close affiliation to South Africa’s diversity, making little distinction between people at a local and national level. They do not rely on government institutions or initiatives to drive this affiliation to other South Africans. This group is averse to government, politics and state institutions, this is reflected in the low levels of confidence in political systems, political parties, government structures and the media. Yet despite their strong social affiliation, this group appears to have an inherent distrust of institutions and institutionalisation, displaying limited community involvement, with the only significant exception in the field of sport.

Consisting of just under 9% of the South African population, Independent Humanists are the most salient with by far the highest levels of cohesiveness. Even though they have limited community involvement, their high levels of cohesiveness may be driven by their focus on a small select groups of people, driven by strong relationships which are steeped in vested interest to protect, guide and nurture where possible. These seemingly deep, exclusive personal social connections reflect the central tenants of the spirit of Ubuntu, where there is an implicit understanding in the strength of interdependence and cooperation. This may be attributed to their high degree of self-actualisation, self-acceptance and acceptance of other people, with relatively independent thought and action. They are committed problem solvers, particularly when this affects their own interests or those of significant others.

The individuals of this group are dissatisfied with current conditions in South Africa, which they attribute largely to government, but do not act on this sentiment. Within the circle of people that they deeply connect with, they help where possible, encouraging and supporting individual rights. They have a notable ‘U’ profile in age and education: overrepresented in the youngest and oldest categories as well as the lowest and highest educational groups. They have above average representation in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape provinces, amongst men, lower income groups and the unemployed.

The Independent Humanist group is predominantly Black, and has a White component that is above the national benchmark. There is notable under-support for the African National Congress(ANC), slight over-support for the Democratic Alliance (DA), greater than average uncertainty on party choice, and double the national level of individuals who do not plan to vote at all. The national profile by home language shows parity in the Nguni language group and slight overrepresentation in the Sotho, Afrikaans and English language groups.

A further defining characteristic is a general distrust of state and political institutions. There is a high incidence of dissatisfaction with current conditions in South Africa, particularly with unemployment, poverty and crime, which they attribute in large part to government action or inaction. They are not, however, prone to acting on this sentiment, strongly avoiding conflict and violence. The group is the least dependent on political or other social structures. Education and skills are highly regarded, they are proud to be South African because of the country’s democratic foundations, and they value the collaborative possibilities that exist amongst South Africans.

Behavioural Group Research Methodology

Survey classification Description
Research conducted by African Response and MarkData
Confidentiality Respondent information is kept confidential and in line with ESOMAR Code of Conduct practices
Survey dates The survey was administered between October and November 2019
Sample size n = 2 500, a final sample of 2 506 realised
Sample selection Multi-staged stratified random design using StastSA 2018 mid-year population estimates
Margin of error 0.097 at 95% confidence level
Data collection methodology Face-to-face in-home interviews on Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) devices
Weighting of data Weighted, using RIM weight methodology. Weight efficiency was 87%
Reporting Weighted, percentages are rounded