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What is morally acceptable? It depends where you live.

In 2013, the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project asked over 40,000 respondents in 40 countries about their opinions on eight topics generally considered to be moral issues:

  • Abortion
  • Divorce
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Extramarital affair
  • Gambling
  • Homosexuality
  • Sex between unmarried adults, and
  • Use of contraceptives

Respondents indicated their sentiment about each issue by choosing one of the following responses:

  • Morally unacceptable
  • Morally acceptable
  • Not a moral issue
  • Depends on the situation, or
  • Refused to answer

Unsurprisingly, there was a great deal of variation in responses across countries and topics. The data suggest that Pakistan and Ghana are the most conservative countries in their attitudes toward the eight issues covered, while France and Germany the most liberal. Around the world, there is general agreement that using contraceptives is morally acceptable and even more consensus that extramarital affairs are morally unacceptable. In some countries, it appears that the most controversial or uncomfortable topic was that of homosexuality, with up to 11% of respondents in India and Pakistan refusing to even answer the question of whether homosexuality is morally acceptable or not.

For more interesting insights, explore the visualization below. [Confession: I like radar charts. While some may disagree, I find them morally acceptable and quite useful, although they require a bit of getting used to. I decided to show some aspects of the data using a radar chart because it effectively presents multivariate data and provides quick visual cues for commonalities and outliers. Select a couple of countries and watch the difference in shapes to draw your conclusions.]

show hide 5 comments

ANDRES ALVAREZ -

Very good investigation and very good showing

pgupta -

Hi George, this is an awesome viz. I had a question – did you have to pre-compute the x,y coords that I see in the underlying data? I guess I can do that, based on the known slope of the line corresponding to the “point”. But just wanted to check in with you.

Country point Country Question Value X Y
France 0 France Having an extramarital affair 47 21 21.103601885
France 1 France Sex between unmarried adults 6 0 3.81
France 2 France Having an abortion 14 -6 6.286179285

Thank you.

George Gorczynski -

Hi – Thanks for your comment and a question, pgupta. Yes, I calculated the X and Y of each point in the data source. However, these calculations could also be carried out in Tableau.

[…] Gorczynski’s Morally Acceptable – I’m usually annoyed by radar charts, but this is […]

Angela -

Hi may I ask how do you create the background circles to show the percentages?

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