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(THINKSTOCK)
(THINKSTOCK)

What’s morally acceptable behaviour? Let's start with where you live Add to ...

Some 17 per cent of Canadians don’t view infidelity as a moral issue and 4 per cent go further, saying that cheating is acceptable, according to the Pew Research Center's new large-scale findings on morality across 40 countries.

The Washington, D.C., think tank’s 2013 Global Attitudes survey took the pulse of more than 40,000 respondents on eight issues often framed as moral ones: extramarital affairs, divorce, abortion, contraception use, premarital sex, homosexuality, gambling and alcohol consumption. Pew asked respondents whether each issue is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable or not a moral issue.

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“Generally, affairs, gambling, homosexuality, and abortion are deemed unacceptable by the largest number of respondents,” read a statement from the think tank. “Contraceptives and divorce are seen as acceptable by the greatest number of people.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 40 per cent of the French do not see cheating on your spouse as a moral issue. Four in ten do not view infidelity through a moral lens, by far the highest ratio in all the countries surveyed. Some 12 per cent of those polled in France believe extramarital affairs are actually morally acceptable. France was matched here by Japan and Venezuela, and topped by the Czech Republic and India, where 17 and 14 per cent said cheating was fine, respectively. (A gendered breakdown of respondents would have been interesting here.)

France, Germany and the Czech Republic appeared most morally relaxed on many of the issues while Ghana, Nigeria and Pakistan hit near the bottom in terms of tolerance.

“Generally, African and predominantly Muslim countries tend to find most of these activities morally unacceptable, while in advanced economies, such as those in Western Europe, Japan, and North America, people tend to be more accepting or to not consider these moral issues at all,” read the Pew report. There are however some exceptions: When it came to divorce, the Muslim nations of Jordan and Egypt hold more liberal views than Canada, Britain and the United States.

Here, a sampling of the Canadian findings:

• 26 per cent feel abortion is morally unacceptable, while 37 per cent don’t see it as a moral issue.

• 15 per cent regard homosexuality as morally unacceptable, but half of Canadians don’t view homosexuality as a moral issue.

• 15 per cent also hold premarital sex as unacceptable, although 47 per cent don’t view sex before marriage as a moral quandary.

• 43 per cent don’t treat contraception as a moral issue; 49 per cent think it’s perfectly acceptable. (Contrast that with Pakistan, where 65 per cent of those polled say the use of contraceptives is unacceptable.)

• 9 per cent of Canadians think divorce is morally wrong, the same percentage that feels that way about booze consumption.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

 

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