Some morals beliefs seem to be part of human nature. "Don’t murder" and "don’t rape" are pretty much universally accepted as immoral acts. What about less clear-cut ideas like homosexuality and drinking alcohol? A recent survey has revealed that people’s morality on homosexuality, alcohol, and six other practices changes depending on where in the world they live. The survey helps us to understand how people in other parts of the world think when it comes to morality and shows that morality is as diverse as the people who practice it.
The study was conducted by the Pew Research Center. Researchers questioned people in 40 different countries on what they felt was morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The issues included: extramarital affairs, gambling, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol use, divorce, and contraception use. Here are some of the highlights from the survey.
Globally, more people feel that extramarital sex is morally unacceptable, than any other issue. Of those interviewed, 78 percent felt that having an affair outside of marriage was immoral. Only seven percent felt that it was acceptable, and 10 percent felt that it was not a moral issue. France was an exception, being the only country where less than half of respondents described infidelity as unacceptable.
Contraceptives and Alcohol
Globally, the issue of contraception is the most widely acceptable. Only 14 percent of the 40 countries felt the issue was morally unacceptable. It was only in Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana where more than half of the population believed that contraceptives were immoral. Alcohol use was widely viewed as morally unacceptable, with 42 percent of countries feeling this way. Less than a quarter of countries believed that alcohol was morally acceptable (24 percent), America being one of them. Finally, 16 percent of countries believed that alcohol use was not a moral issue. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis interviewed, 94 percent, viewed alcohol as morally unacceptable. On the end of the spectrum, 66 percent of Japanese interviewees believed that drinking alcohol was morally acceptable.
In line with global standards, having an affair is deemed morally unacceptable by more Americans than any other issue. A total of 84 percent of interviewed Americans felt this way, while only four percent felt that it was morally acceptable, and 10 percent felt that it had nothing to do with morals. Abortion is the second most immoral issue in the eyes of Americans. Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans interviewed believed that this act was morally unacceptable. This differed from the global morality, where abortion only reached number four, preceded not only extra marital affairs but also gambling and homosexuality. Results showed that most Americans, in line with the rest of the world, believe that contraception use is not an immoral act. In fact, 52 percent of Americans felt that using contraception was actually morally acceptable.
The survey also broke down Americans’ views on morality with their political party. Results found that, similar to the general belief, Republicans were more socially conservative and Democrats were more socially liberal. However, both parties agreed on issues such as gambling, contraceptives, and alcohol. All three issues were generally seen as morally acceptable or not a moral issue by all interviewees regardless of political affiliation.