The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

  Washington Post/Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University Value Study -- Part 2

Part 1

The latest Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University study is based on random telephone interviews with 1,200 adults on August 10-August 27. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

1. Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have gotten seriously off on the wrong track?

           Right direction    Wrong Track     No opinion
8/27/98          41               53               6
2. Some people say they are worried about the state of Americans' values and morals these days. What specific problem with the country's values and morals concerns you yourself most?

Government (NET) 19

President Clinton (subNET) 14

Dishonest/lies to public 3
No moral leadership/Poor example 6
Too much thought/attention given to
President's private life 2
President (Lewinsky issue) 4
President (unspecified) 1

General government (subNET) 6

Dishonest government/Politicians/
poor political leadership 3
Political infighting/
more interest in themselves 1
Separation of church & state issues/
religious right affecting government 2
Too much government involvement 1

Family (NET) 16

Lack of parental guidance/absentee parents/
too permissive/not role models 7
Divorce/single parent households 3
No family values/morals 6
Inability to discipline children 2

Attitudes (NET) 33
Lack of respect for people/property/authority 5
Only interested in self/money 3
Lack of morals/values/honesty in general/
right and wrong 10
Sexual promescuity/attitudes/teen pregnancy/adultery 8
Lack of religious commitment 5
General dishonesty 1
Poor attitudes/morals of young people/kids 3
People not taking responsibility 2

Media (NET) 6

Violence/sex in media/music 5
Dishonesty/unethical media/press issues 1

Crime/Violence (NET) 12

Guns 1
Drugs/Alcohol 5
Violence (other than juvenile) 7

Juvenile (NET) 8

Kids using/selling drugs 1
Juvenile violence/crimes/guns 6
Gangs 1

Misc. (NET) 20

The economy/inflation 1
Abortion 1
Welfare issues 1
Income/Money issues 1
Education Issues 3
Racism Issues 2
Healthcare Issues 1
Social Security Issues 1
Homosexuality 1
Unemployment 1
Environment *
Criminal justice system 1
Terrorism 1
Job security/employment 1
Other 6

None 5
Don't Know/No opinion 10
3. On the whole, would you say that you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the honesty and standards of behavior of people in this country today?
           Satisfied    Dissatisfied    No opinion
8/27/98        32            63              5
4. Thinking of the time from the 1920s to the 1990s-is there a decade in which you think American values and morals were particularly good? (IF YES:) Which decade?
------------------------Yes---------------------------         No
1920s  1930s  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s   No   opin.
4      5     13     28      9      7      6      3    18     6
5. Do you think that young people today have as strong a sense of right and wrong as they did, say, fifty years ago?
           Yes    No    No opinion
8/27/98     20    78          2
6. Which statement comes closer to your own views: Americans are united and in agreement about the most important values, or Americans are greatly divided when it comes to the most important values?
           United/in agreement    Greatly divided    No opinion
8/27/98            31                    66               3 
7. Which of the following worries you more about the future:? That the country will become too tolerant of behaviors that are bad for society, OR That the country will become too intolerant of behaviors that don't do any real harm to society.
            Tolerant    Intolerant    No opinion
8/27/98        66           28             6
9. Would you say that (VALUE CHOSEN) is much more important, somewhat more important, or only a little more important than (VALUE NOT CHOSEN)?
a. (One) Being tough on criminals or (two) protecting the rights of those accused of crime?
Being tough     Protecting rights     Both equally        No
on criminals       of accused        important(vol.)    opinion
76                17                  5               2
                          Much    Somewhat      Only a         No
                          more      more      little more    opinion
8/27/98 Being tough        66        25            9            1
8/27/98 Protect rights     40        37           22            1
b. Guaranteeing law and order in society or guaranteeing individual freedom?
Guaranteeing      Guaranteeing        Both equally        No
Law and order  individual freedom    important (vol.)   opinion
56                34                  8               2
                          Much   Somewhat      Only a         No
                          more      more      little more    opinion
8/27/98 Law and order      50       34           14            1
8/27/98 Individual freedom 42       31           26            2
c. Working for the rights of women or preserving traditional family values?
Protecting Rights    Preserving       Both equally         No
of women        family values     important(vol.)    opinion
31                60                7                2
                          Much    Somewhat      Only a         No
                          more      more      little more    opinion
8/27/98 Rights of women    37        46           17            1
8/27/98 Family values      55        29           15            1
d. Defending the community's standards of right and wrong or protecting the rights of individuals to live by their own moral standards?
Defending standards  Protecting rights   Both equally       No
of right and wrong    of individuals     important(vol.)   opin.
55                  39                3              3
                            Much    Somewhat    Only a        No
                            more      more    little more   opinion
8/27/98 Defending standards  50        37         12           1
8/27/98 Protect rights       38        38         22           2
e. Protecting the environment or increasing jobs and economic growth?
Protecting     Increasing jobs      Both equally        No
environment  and economic growth   important(vol.)    opinion
52                37                 10               2
                     Much    Somewhat      Only a         No
                     more      more      little more    opinion
Protect environment   55        33           11            *
Inc. Jobs/econ grwth  37        38           23            2
f. Encouraging a belief in God or encouraging a modern scientific outlook?
 Belief in    Encouraging a      Both equally        No
God       modern outlook    important(vol.)    opinion
78             15                  5              3
                          Much    Somewhat      Only a         No
                          more      more      little more    opinion
8/27/98 Belief in God      82        13            5            1
8/27/98 Modern outlook     25        33           40            2
g. Narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor or increasing economic growth?
Narrowing gap       Increasing       Both equally       No
between rich/poor    econ. growth    important(vol.)    opin.
37                 56                 4             3
                          Much    Somewhat      Only a         No
                          more      more      little more    opinion
8/27/98 Narrowing gap      47        41           11            1
8/27/98 Inc. econ. growth  40        45           15            1
10. (Each item asked of half sample) Which political party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job on (READ EACH ITEM)?
a. Making sure that individual rights are protected
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
42           31             4             15            8 
b. Making sure that all people receive equal treatment under the law
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
47           25             6             14             8
c. Showing compassion toward the disadvantaged
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
52           21             3             15             9
d. Protecting freedom of speech
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
41           31             6             15             8
e. Reflecting your religious beliefs
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
32           35             4             17            10
f. Encouraging high moral standards and values
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
26           41             4             20             8
g. Promoting self-reliance
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
33           40             2             14            11
h. Making sure government is not too large or too small
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
33           36             4             17            10
i. Reducing poverty in this country
Democrats    Republicans    Both(vol.)    Neither(vol.)   No opin.
48           25             2             15             9
11. Would you say you favor a smaller government with fewer services, or larger government with many services? (GET ANSWER THEN ASK: Do you strongly or somewhat favor a larger/smaller government?)
----Smaller government----   ---- Larger government---      No
NET    Strongly   Somewhat   NET   Somewhat    Strongly    opin.
59       33         26       33      20          13         8
12. How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington to do the right thing? Just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?
Just about always    Most    Only some    None(vol.)    No opin.
6              28        59             7            1
13. I'm going to read a couple of statements, and ask whether, in general, you agree or disagree. How about (READ ITEM)
a. The government has gone too far in regulating business and interfering with the free enterprise system.
           Agree    Disagree    No opinion
8/27/98     59         35            6     
b. The federal government has a responsibility to try to do away with poverty in this country.
            Agree    Disagree    No opinion
8/27/98     70         28            2     
14. Would you like the government to do more, do less, or do about the same as they have been on helping minority groups?
          More    Less    About the same    No opinion
8/27/98     37      22           37                3
15. In your opinion, which of the following do you think will be the biggest threat to the country in the future--big business, big labor, or big government?
         Big business    Big labor    Big government    No opinion
8/27/98        25             11            59                6
16. On another subject, please tell me whether you definitely agree, probably agree, probably disagree, or definitely disagree with the following statement. The best mark of a person's religiousness is the degree of his or her concern for others.
----------Agree------------    ----------Disagree---------   No
NET   Definitely   Probably    NET   Probably   Definitely  opin.
81      49           32        17       8          9         2
17. Some people think it is all right for the public schools to start each day with a prayer. Others feel that religion does not belong in the public schools but should be taken care of by the family and the church. Have you been interested enough in this to favor one side or the other? (IF INTERESTED: ) Which do you think: Should schools be allowed to start each day with a prayer, or religon does not belong in the schools?
-------------------Yes----------------------       Not         No
NET   Allow   Doesn't belong   Depends(vol.)    interested    opin.
81     56          20               4              18          1
18. As you may know, some states are offering people a new kind of marriage contract called a covenant marriage. This requires that people getting married go through premarital counseling, and also makes it more difficult for them to get divorced even if they later decide they want to. Would you favor or oppose having covenant marriages in your state?
           Favor    Oppose    No opinion
8/27/98     50        45           5     
19. Would you yourself ever consider or ever have considered a covenant marriage if it was available?
           Yes    No    No opinion
8/27/98     42    54          5
20. Do you approve or disapprove of medical techniques which allow women to have children beyond their normal childbearing age?
           Approve    Disapprove    No opinion
8/27/98      40           51             9
21. Thinking about your own values and morals, would you say that homosexuality is: always acceptable, acceptable for some people but not for others, unacceptable but should be tolerated by society, or unacceptable and should not be tolerated?
------Acceptable------  ---------Unacceptable------ No                       
NET   Always  For some  NET   Tolerated   Not tol.  opin.
39     15       24      57       29          28     4
22. (Of those who said unacceptable) What is the main reason you personally think homosexuality is unacceptable?
Bible forbids it/homosexuality is a sin/ Church condemns it/all other religious objections 52
Not natural/Against laws of nature
(without mentioning Bible/God/religion) 22
Can not reproduce 1
Find homosexuality disgusting/obscene 5
Object to lifestyle 9
AIDS, any mentions 1
Homosexuals mentally unstable/homosexuality an illness 1
Just not right/my opinion/don't understand it 2
Public display/media exposure/not private *
Goes against family/values 1
Exposing youth *
Other 1
No opinion 4
23. In your opinion, what is the main cause of homosexuality? Are people born homosexual, do people become homosexual because of their experiences while growing up, or do people choose to be homosexual on their own? Born Experiences Choose on their own No opin. 8/27/98 32 20 33 16 24. Do you think homosexuality is a physical or mental illness, or not? Yes No No opinion 8/27/98 32 59 9 25. Do you think a person's homosexual orientation can be changed in most cases, in some cases, in just a few cases, or never? Most Some In just a few Never No opinion 8/27/98 18 27 24 22 9 26. Do you think gays and lesbians should or should not attend programs to try to change their sexuality? Should Should not No opinion 8/27/98 43 39 18 27. Which view comes closer to your own (READ LIST):
Government should promote policies and programs discouraging homosexuality, Government should promote policies and programs that treat homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle,OR Government should not get involved in this issue Discourage Acceptable Not get No homosexuality homosexuality involved opinion 8/27/98 14 11 74 2 28. Does it bother you to be around people who are gay or lesbian? [IF YES] Is that a lot or a little? ----------Yes----------- NET A lot A little No No opinion 8/27/98 22 10 12 74 4 29. Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal or illegal? Legal Illegal No opinion 8/27/98 55 34 11 30. (Of those who think relations should be legal) Should homosexual relations be legal even though they go against the teachings of many major religions and may weaken traditional family values? Should Should not No opinion 8/27/98 82 18 0 31. (Of those who think relations should be illegal)Should homosexual relations be illegal even if this means that consenting adults who engage in these activities in their own homes could be prosecuted for a crime? Should Should not No opinion 8/27/98 33 56 10 32. In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job opportunities? Should Should not No opinion 8/27/98 87 9 3 33. Do you yourself have a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is gay or lesbian, or not? Yes No No opinion 8/27/98 59 40 1 34. On another subject, which of these federal tax systems do you prefer: (READ ITEMS)
  • The current graduated income tax, where people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate, or instead
  • A flat income tax, where everyone would pay the same rate no matter what their income
  • OR A national sales tax based on purchases of goods and services rather than on income? Current Flat National None No graduated tax tax sales tax (vol.) opinion 8/27/98 38 28 29 1 4 35. Which of these statements comes closer to your own opinion? (READ ITEMS)
  • We should put limits on the amount of money people can give to political candidates, so that everyone would have a more equal chance to compete for office, OR:
  • People should be free to contribute as much money as they want to any political candidate they choose. Put limits Should be free Neither(vol.) No opinion 8/27/98 67 30 1 2 36. Which of the following descriptions comes closer to your view of what Social Security should look like in the future?(READ ITEMS)
  • A program in which people receive payments based on how much they paid into the program and how much that money has earned.
  • A program to assure that elderly people have a minimum income during retirement regardless of what they paid into the program. Based on pay Assure minimum Neither(vol.) No opinion 51 44 2 3 37. Which of the following comes closer to your view (READ ITEMS)?
  • Individuals should be allowed to invest and manage some of their Social Security payroll taxes themselves because it is better to have more individual freedom in choosing retirement investments
  • The government should continue to be in charge of Social Security to make sure that everyone will have some retirement savings available to them when they retire. Allowed to invest Government in charge No opinion 8/27/98 43 53 4

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

    Back to the top

  • Navigation Bar
    Navigation Bar