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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Views of Moral Behavior

Megan Brenan at Gallup:
Using birth control, drinking alcohol and getting a divorce remain the most broadly accepted personal moral behaviors in the United States, out of a list of 21 measured in Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll. Conversely, extramarital affairs, cloning humans, suicide and polygamy are viewed most broadly by Americans as morally wrong behaviors.

All but five of these behaviors have been measured since the early 2000s, and Americans have increasingly taken a more liberal view on many of them since then. The latest reading, from a May 1-12 poll, shows that at least 60% of Americans find 10 of the behaviors to be morally acceptable. In addition to birth control (92%), alcohol use (79%), and divorce (77%), sex between unmarried men and women (71%), gambling (68%), smoking marijuana (65%), embryonic stem cell research (64%), having a baby outside of marriage (64%), gay or lesbian relations (63%) and the death penalty (60%) round out that list.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are seven behaviors that fewer than four in 10 Americans deem morally acceptable, including teenage sex (38%), pornography (37%), cloning animals (31%), polygamy (18%), suicide (17%), cloning humans (12%) and extramarital affairs (9%).

The issues that divide Americans most closely are buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur, doctor-assisted suicide, medical testing on animals and abortion. On each, the gap between "morally acceptable" and "morally wrong" views is less than 10 percentage points.