Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Morality poll offers glimpse into American ideals

Compiled by Herb Scribner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, Jan. 9 12:30 p.m. MST

 CNN interviewed 1,010 American adults by telephone and cellphone to ask questions on social issues.

CNN interviewed 1,010 American adults by telephone and cellphone to ask questions on social issues.

(Thinkstock)

A CNN poll released Jan. 6 shows how some Americans feel morally about different issues, including cheating on their taxes, looking at a pornographic magazine and drinking alcoholic beverages.

CNN interviewed 1,010 American adults by telephone and cellphone to ask questions on social issues.

According to the poll, 93 percent of those surveyed found being married and having sex with someone else to be immoral — the highest of any of the social issues. Cheating on taxes was the second-highest on the list at 90 percent, and having an abortion rounded out at the top three at 57 percent.

While 46 percent of those surveyed responded looking at a pornographic magazine is immoral, 35 percent felt the same about smoking marijuana. Other issues, like living with someone when you’re not married and drinking alcoholic beverages were deemed immoral by 32 and 16 percent of those surveyed, respectively, according to the poll.

This is a slight change from a similar poll done by Time magazine in 1987, according to The Huffington Post. In the same poll 26 years ago, 92 percent of those surveyed found being married and having sex with another person as morally wrong; 86 percent found cheating on his or her taxes as a moral issue; and 82 percent found “engaging in homosexual behavior” as immoral — something that 50 percent of those surveyed found immoral in 2014, The Huffington Post reported.

People in the United States are entering the year on a gloomier note, according to the Associated Press. Many people saw the world facing some serious problems come 2050.

“Whether they foresee runaway technology or runaway government, rampant poverty or vanishing morality, a majority of Americans predict a future worse than today,” Connie Cass wrote for the AP.

This gloom outlook on the future may be a reason why former Polish President Lech Walesa said America, under President Barack Obama, isn’t a leader in morality, according to The Hill.

“When he was elected there was great hope in the world,” Walesa said, according to The Hill. “We were hoping that Obama would reclaim moral leadership for America, but that failed. America does not lead the world in the area of morality.”

But people are happy in the United States, according to the AP’s survey, which said nine out of 10 Americans consider themselves happy.

"Most people evaluate their lives very stably from year to year," said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey said to the AP. "You don't want massive surges and falls in personal happiness, and the fact that we don't see that is reassuring."

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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1. Tolstoy
salt lake, UT,
Jan. 9, 2014

“Many people saw the world facing some serious problems come 2050.”
"Most people evaluate their lives very stably from year to year."
These two statements taken together speak to an interesting part of the human psychology that has been stubbornly persistent since at least the invention of the written word (and I suspect much longer). People typically have always seemed to view themselves as generally happy but see doom and gloom for the not so distant future of mankind in general.

2. DRay
Roy, UT,
Jan. 9, 2014

Only 1000 in the sample, it seems kind of small for an accurate conclusion on how Americans view morality/immorality. We are way too tolerant of deviant behavior nowadays.

3. mornixuur
Layton, UT,
Jan. 9, 2014

@DRay:

Presuming a method is chosen to get a truly random sample, basic statistical math will show that a sample size of 1,000 will get you a margin of error within three percentage points. I'd call that reasonably accurate.

(Anyone who responds that the pollsters aren't getting a truly random sample, should realize they'll be expected to back up their claim if they desire credibility.)

As for your claim regarding deviant behavior... Perhaps I'm just tolerant of personal freedom, and not imposing my own morality on others. Including you.

4. Blue AZ Cougar
Chandler, AZ,
Jan. 9, 2014

@DRay
Unfortunately the behavior of some individuals is becoming less and less deviant only because the behavior itself is becoming more and more acceptable. Also, as mornixuur so graciously pointed out, polling 1,000 people can actually be a statistically meaningful study.

5. Florien Wineriter
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Jan. 10, 2014

The CNN survey results are interesting and not surprising but adding comments about Pres. Obama's effects on our moral values sounds like unrelated political propaganda of a T-party spokesman. I expect the DMN and all news media to keep political views and news separate and identified.