Attitudes Toward Nomarital Sex in 24 Countries.Comparing sexual attitudes and behaviors across cultures is a concern of anthropological and sociological research. Scholars have pointed out that many societies around the world share common normative nor·ma·tive
Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar.
nor attitudes toward sex, including the incest taboo The incest taboo refers to the cultural prohibition of sexual activity or marriage between persons defined as "close" relatives; the degree of which is determined by the society in which the persons live. , condemnation Condemnation
bell, book, and candle
symbols of Catholic excommunication rite. [Christianity: Brewer Note-Book, 85]
Bridge of Sighs
passage from Doge’s court to execution chamber in Renaissance Venice. [Ital. Hist. of adultery adultery
Sexual relations between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse. Prohibitions against adultery are found in virtually every society; Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions all condemn it, and in some Islamic countries it is still punishable by , and a general concern for regulating sexuality, particularly outside wedlock (Levi-Strauss, 1969; Murdock, 1960). At the same time, research has shown that attitudes toward premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation masturbation
Erotic stimulation of one's own genital organs, usually to achieve orgasm. Masturbatory behavior is common in infants and adolescents, and is indulged in by many adults as well. Studies indicate that over 90% of U.S. males and 60–80% of U.S. , petting, and other sexual behavior sexual behavior A person's sexual practices–ie, whether he/she engages in heterosexual or homosexual activity. See Sex life, Sexual life. are not constants, but present different patterns from culture to culture (Ford & Beach, 1951). Even in the Western world, countries differ in their emphasis on the value of virginity Virginity
See also Chastity, Purity.
patron saint of virgins. [Christian Hagiog.: Brewer Dictionary, 16]
Indian maiden learns too late she can be released from her vow to remain a virgin. [Fr. Lit. before marriage, the acceptability of homosexuality, and the appropriate age to become sexually active (Buss, 1989; Christensen & Carpenter, 1962; Christensen & Gregg, 1970; Jones et al., 1985; Jones et al., 1986; Ross, 1985).
Although scholars, policy makers, and the general public have a genuine interest in cross-national variations in attitudes regarding sexual morality, most research in the social and behavioral sciences behavioral sciences,
n.pl those sciences devoted to the study of human and animal behavior. has been largely a local or national enterprise. Indeed, most studies have been based on samples not representative of a national population, and nationally representative studies have seldom been designed with an eye to facilitating international comparisons. Cross-national research on sexuality remains relatively underdeveloped un·der·de·vel·oped
Not adequately or normally developed; immature. .
Considering nonmarital sex, attitudes toward premarital sex, teenage sex, extramarital sex Noun 1. extramarital sex - sexual intercourse between individuals who are not married to one another
criminal congress, unlawful carnal knowledge - forbidden or tabu sexual intercourse between individuals , and homosexual sex are sometimes assumed to be indicators of a single underlying dimension measuring the overall sexual permissiveness of individuals or nations. While these four variables are correlated cor·re·late
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.
2. , it need not follow that societies show consistently permissive permissive adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.
PERMISSIVE. or conservative attitudes on all four variables, nor that a simple permissive-nonpermissive dichotomy di·chot·o·my
n. pl. di·chot·o·mies
1. Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions: "the dichotomy of the one and the many" Louis Auchincloss. is enough to account for variation across countries. If moral evaluations of different sorts of nonmarital sexual relationships hang together in complex ways, this implies a more pluralistic plu·ral·is·tic
1. Of or relating to social or philosophical pluralism.
2. Having multiple aspects or parts: "the idea that intelligence is a pluralistic quality that ... landscape of sexual values than a permissive nonpermissive dichotomy would suggest. For example, nations which are tolerant of sexual experimentation before marriage might be more approving of both premarital sex and teen sex, but not necessarily of extramarital sex. Nations where many people are critical of marriage as a social institution might support the right of premarital cohabitors and homosexuals to have sex, but not necessarily young teens. We therefore hypothesize hy·poth·e·size
v. hy·poth·e·sized, hy·poth·e·siz·ing, hy·poth·e·siz·es
To assert as a hypothesis.
To form a hypothesis. that these four variables combine in different ways across countries, and that countries form clusters distinguished by characteristic profiles of attitudes toward nonmarital sex.
How many different sexual regimes exist and which countries belong to what regime are empirical questions. These questions are addressed using newly available national survey data from 24 countries on attitudes toward homosexual sex, extramarital sex, premarital sex, and teenage sex. Moving beyond previous research, we are interested in measuring how much of attitudes toward nonmarital sex is shared by countries or regimes. Researchers, particularly anthropologists, have been interested in the extent to which cultures share sexual norms A sexual norm can refer to a personal or a social norm. Most cultures have social norms regarding sexuality, and define normal sexuality to consist only of certain legal sex acts between individuals who meet specific criteria of age, relatedness or social role and status. , values, and ethics, as part of a broader interest in universal features of social life that transcend particular cultures and idioms. Even though we are mostly concerned with modern industrial societies, we also wish to address the issue of universality versus specificity, and we introduce a straightforward way of measuring the degree of sharing.
Research on Cross-National Differences
Research on sexual attitudes in industrialized in·dus·tri·al·ize
v. in·dus·tri·al·ized, in·dus·tri·al·iz·ing, in·dus·tri·al·iz·es
1. To develop industry in (a country or society, for example).
2. nations points out the fact that normative standards differ across countries. For example, comparative research has repeatedly shown that Scandinavian students are more tolerant of premarital sex than are their American counterparts (Christensen & Gregg, 1970; Schwartz, 1993; Weinberg, Lottes, & Shaner, 1995). A 37-country study reported that non-Western societies (China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Taiwan, and Palestinian Arabs) value chastity Chastity
See also Modesty, Purity, Virginity.
virgin saint and martyr. [Christian Hagiog.: Brewster, 76]
(Rom. Diana) moon goddess; virgin huntress. [Gk. Myth. highly in a potential mate, that Western European countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, West Germany West Germany: see Germany. , and France) attach little importance to prior sexual experience, and that Ireland, Japan, and Poland fall somewhere in between (Buss, 1989). Data on attitudes toward homosexuality have been reported for 16 industrialized countries. They suggest that tolerance for homosexuality is linked with postmaterialist values (Inglehart, 1990). Tolerance for sexual expression in the public sphere The public sphere is a concept in continental philosophy and critical theory that contrasts with the private sphere, and is the part of life in which one is interacting with others and with society at large. has also been shown to differ markedly between Western, industrialized nations: Sweden and Ireland anchor the extremes in terms of openness in the sale of sexually explicit material Sexually explicit material (video, photography, creative writing) presents sexual content without deliberately obscuring or censoring it. The term sexually explicit media is often used as euphemism for pornography. , public nudity Noun 1. public nudity - vulgar and offensive nakedness in a public place
infraction, misdemeanor, misdemeanour, violation, infringement - a crime less serious than a felony , and condom 1. condom - The protective plastic bag that accompanies 3.5-inch microfloppy diskettes. Rarely, also used of (paper) disk envelopes. Unlike the write protect tab, the condom (when left on) not only impedes the practice of SEX but has also been shown to have a high failure advertising (Jones et al., 1985).
Despite the cumulation of comparative findings, cross-national research has been limited in several ways. First, although anthropologists have undertaken cross-cultural analyses of a broad range of sexual attitudes and behaviors (Broude & Greene, 1976; Ford & Beach, 1951; Minturn, Grosse, & Haider, 1969; Murdock, 1960), cross-national research on complex, industrial societies has focused on only a few aspects of sexuality. Premarital sexuality, including teenage sex, has been emphasized, largely to the exclusion of other kinds of nonmarital sexual relationships. Little is known about how attitudes toward extramarital sex and homosexual sex vary across countries.
Second, comparative research on complex, industrial societies has focused on relatively few countries. Most articles that we have reviewed concern the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and a Northern European country. Sweden, for example, has been posed as a counterpoint counterpoint, in music, the art of combining melodies each of which is independent though forming part of a homogeneous texture. The term derives from the Latin for "point against point," meaning note against note in referring to the notation of plainsong. to American views of sexual morality. Relatively little comparative information is available on other European countries and even less on non-European countries. Comparing the same handful of countries again and again dooms research to redundant findings. Even our understanding of well-studied nations is advanced by contextualizing them within a broader set of contemporary societies.
Third, most existing research dealing with international comparisons rests on samples which are not nationally representative. Comparative studies tend to make good use of small convenience samples of college students or other groups strategically chosen to elucidate e·lu·ci·date
v. e·lu·ci·dat·ed, e·lu·ci·dat·ing, e·lu·ci·dates
To make clear or plain, especially by explanation; clarify.
To give an explanation that serves to clarify. a particular issue (Christensen & Carpenter, 1962; Kyes & Tumbelaka, 1994; Lottes & Weinherg, 1997; Ma, 1989; Perlman, Josephson, Hwang, Begum be·gum
1. A Muslim woman of rank.
2. Used as a form of address for such a woman.
[Urdu begam, from East Turkic begüm, first person sing. , & Thomas, 1978; Ross, 1985; Schwartz, 1993; Sprecher & Hatfield, 1996; Sprecher, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapava & Levitskaya, 1994; Weinherg et al., 1995). Buss's (1989) 37-country study, for example, was not based on probability sampling but relied instead on various sampling strategies, including systematic household sampling in Venezuelan neighborhoods, mail responses to West German newspaper advertisements, and Estonian couples applying for marriage licenses.
Fourth, even though the representativeness of data on sexuality has been advanced by some excellent national surveys,including the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey in the United States (NHSLS NHSLS National Health and Social Life Survey ) (Laumann, Gagnon, Michaels, & Michaels, 1994), the 1990-91 British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) is the name given to two face-to-face interviews of people in the United Kingdom regarding their sexual behaviour and patterns. The two rounds of interviews are NATSAL I (1990-91) and NATSAL II (2000-01). (Wellings, Field, Johnson, & Wadsworth, 1994), and the 1992 Analysis of Sexual Behavior in France Survey (ACSF ACSF Afghan Civil Society Forum
ACSF Artificial Cerebrospinal Fluid ) (Bozon & Leridon, 1996), there is a dearth of genuinely comparable studies. Differences in question wording, response categories, survey context, and procedures undermine confidence in comparability. An exemplar ex·em·plar
1. One that is worthy of imitation; a model. See Synonyms at ideal.
2. One that is typical or representative; an example.
3. An ideal that serves as a pattern; an archetype.
4. for the standardized standardized
pertaining to data that have been submitted to standardization procedures.
standardized morbidity rate
see morbidity rate.
standardized mortality rate
see mortality rate. collection of information relevant to AIDS has been developed (Carballo, Cleland, Carael, & Albrecht, 1989), leading to a report of cross-national sexual attitudes and behaviors in 16 mostly developing countries (Cleland & Ferry, 1995). Typically, researchers who wish to understand cultural differences and similarities have had to overlook problems of strict comparability. For example, to demonstrate that men report more sexual partners than do women, Smith (1992a) relied on American, Canadian, British, and Norwegian surveys which, while nationally representative, differed in question wording, response categories, and time referents. The cross-national World Values Surveys It is an ongoing academic project by social scientists to assess the state of sociocultural, moral, religious and political values of different cultures around the world. Its results are largely available on the project's internet website. contain comparable data on whether extramarital sex, homosexual sex, and sex under the legal age of consent are ever justified, but these items have not been exploited to examine regimes of attitudes toward nonmarital sex (Inglehart, 1997).
In contrast to previous research, this study has the benefit of data from a standardized questionnaire collected in 24 countries from large and nationally representative samples. Analysis capitalizes on data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP ISSP Institute for Solid State Physics (University of Tokyo)
ISSP International Social Survey Programme
ISSP Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (UK)
ISSP International Space Station Program ) made available by the Zentralarchiv Fuer Empirische Sozialforschung, Koeln(1) The ISSP is an established program of cross-national collaboration which, since 1985, has facilitated annual social science surveys (Smith, 1992b). In 1994, independent research institutions in individual countries replicated survey questions on family, sexuality, and gender roles, typically as a supplement to national surveys. Data are available for 24 countries, including Australia, Germany (East and West reported separately), Great Britain Great Britain, officially United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 60,441,000), 94,226 sq mi (244,044 sq km), on the British Isles, off W Europe. The country is often referred to simply as Britain. , Northern Ireland Northern Ireland: see Ireland, Northern.
Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Area: 5,461 sq mi (14,144 sq km). Population (2001): 1,685,267. , the United States, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, the Czech Republic Czech Republic, Czech Česká Republika (2005 est. pop. 10,241,000), republic, 29,677 sq mi (78,864 sq km), central Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia on the east, Austria on the south, Germany on the west, and Poland on the north. , Slovenia, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. , Canada, the Philippines, Israel, and Japan. The total sample includes 33,590 respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. . National samples range in size from 647 in Northern Ireland to 2,494 in Spain. Appendix A presents characteristics of the samples and their design by country.
Survey informants were asked about four types of nonmarital sex. The premarital sex item read "Do you think it is wrong or not wrong for a man and woman to have sexual relations sexual relations
1. Sexual intercourse.
2. Sexual activity between individuals. before marriage?" This was followed by questions asking "What if they are in their early teens, say under 16 years old?"; "What about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than his or her husband or wife?"; and "What about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex?" The respondents were presented with four response categories: always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all. Other responses (it depends, cannot choose, don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. ) were treated as missing values In statistics, missing values are a common occurrence. Several statistical methods have been developed to deal with this problem. Missing values mean that no data value is stored for the variable in the current observation. .
Wording of the questionnaire items was standardized by translating from British English British English
The English language used in England as distinguished from that used elsewhere. , hut comparability may still have been affected by country differences in mode of data collection, sample design and population coverage, country-specific content of the various questionnaires to which these items were appended, and other factors. Even allowing for possible measurement error and the limited number of items asked about sexuality, the ISSP data offer a considerable improvement over prior cross-national efforts because they present nationally representative data on attitudes toward four different types of nonmarital sex in 24 countries. The data are superior to those previously available to scholars interested in comparative analysis of sexual attitudes in contemporary industrialized societies.
Attitude Profile by Country
We first aggregated the 33,590 responses using percentages into a matrix of 24 rows (the countries) by 16 columns (the four response categories for each of the four types of nonmarital sex). This matrix appears in Table 1.
Table 1. Attitudes Towards Nonmarital Sex by Country (Percentages) Sex before marriage wrong? Countries Almost Only Not Wrong Always always sometimes at all Australia 13 8 19 59 Austria 4 8 19 69 Bulgaria 23 9 11 57 Canada 12 5 15 69 Czech Republic 5 6 20 68 Germany (East) 2 1 10 87 Germany (West) 12 3 14 79 Great Britain 19 5 14 70 Hungary 19 10 17 54 Ireland 35 8 15 42 Israel 19 7 9 65 Italy 19 7 15 59 Japan 19 21 44 15 Netherland 7 3 13 77 New Zealand 19 6 14 62 Northern Ireland 31 8 13 48 Norway 7 3 13 77 Philippines 60 16 13 11 Poland 18 9 13 60 Russia 13 12 18 57 Slovenia 3 3 12 82 Spain 20 8 9 63 Sweden 4 2 5 89 USA 29 12 18 41 Overall 17 7 15 61 Sex before 16 wrong? Countries Always Almost Only Not wrong Always sometimes at all Australia 61 20 10 9 Austria 36 38 18 8 Bulgaria 71 14 7 8 Canada 55 20 16 9 Czech Republic 59 21 12 8 Germany (East) 27 22 34 16 Germany (West) 34 24 29 13 Great Britain 67 21 9 3 Hungary 50 26 17 7 Ireland 84 9 6 1 Israel 67 14 9 9 Italy 58 19 14 9 Japan 60 30 7 3 Netherland 45 24 25 5 New Zealand 71 18 8 4 Northern Ireland 81 12 5 2 Norway 55 24 15 6 Philippines 77 16 5 3 Poland 77 14 4 4 Russia 45 30 14 11 Slovenia 44 27 23 6 Spain 59 18 9 14 Sweden 32 28 22 17 USA 71 16 9 4 Overall 58 21 14 7 Extramarital sex wrong? Countries Always Almost Only Not wrong Always sometimes at all Australia 59 24 10 7 Austria 67 28 3 2 Bulgaria 51 20 14 16 Canada 68 19 10 2 Czech Republic 43 26 21 9 Germany (East) 60 23 13 4 Germany (West) 55 27 13 4 Great Britain 67 23 8 2 Hungary 62 20 15 3 Ireland 80 13 5 2 Israel 73 17 6 4 Italy 67 13 15 5 Japan 58 33 7 2 Netherland 63 24 11 2 New Zealand 75 17 6 1 Northern Ireland 81 12 6 2 Norway 70 25 5 1 Philippines 88 10 1 1 Poland 74 14 7 5 Russia 36 26 21 17 Slovenia 57 27 13 3 Spain 76 13 7 5 Sweden 68 26 5 1 USA 80 14 4 2 Overall 66 21 9 4 Homosexual sex wrong? Countries Always Almost Only Not wrong Always sometimes at all Australia 55 8 10 27 Austria 52 18 15 15 Bulgaria 81 5 4 10 Canada 39 5 10 46 Czech Republic 29 12 21 39 Germany (East) 51 9 10 30 Germany (West) 42 10 14 33 Great Britain 58 6 10 26 Hungary 83 8 5 4 Ireland 71 6 6 17 Israel 57 8 7 27 Italy 67 7 7 19 Japan 65 22 11 2 Netherland 19 4 12 65 New Zealand 56 5 8 31 Northern Ireland 80 4 6 10 Norway 47 6 11 37 Philippines 84 9 3 3 Poland 77 6 4 14 Russia 57 17 7 19 Slovenia 70 13 9 8 Spain 45 7 6 42 Sweden 56 6 6 32 USA 70 4 7 19 Overall 59 9 9 24
Before considering whether countries cluster into distinctive sexual regimes, it is useful to examine the country-by-country distribution of attitudes appearing in Table 1. In each country, premarital sex is the most accepted of the four types of nonmarital sex-a finding consistent with cross-cultural research on indigenous societies (Brown, 1952). The mean percent agreeing that premarital sex is not wrong at all is 61% across the 24 countries. A substantial majority of respondents in most countries chose this response, but the exceptions are worth pointing out. For example, only 11% of Filipinos consider premarital sex to be not wrong at all. Japan also presents a unique pattern of responses: 44% of Japanese respondents indicate premarital sex is only sometimes wrong, as compared with a mean of 15% across all countries. The remaining countries reflect two general patterns: Either they demonstrate a strong consensus on the acceptability of premarital sex or, less commonly, they are polarized A one-way direction of a signal or the molecules within a material pointing in one direction. between strong approval and strong disapproval, as in the cases of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Northern, division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1989 est. pop. 1,583,500), 5,462 sq mi (14,147 sq km), NE Ireland. Made up of six of the nine counties of the historic province of Ulster in NE Ireland, it is frequently called Ireland, and the United States.
Approval of premarital sex is limited to adults, however. Although a majority see nothing wrong with sex before marriage, only 7% of respondents across countries voice this opinion when teenagers younger than 16 are concerned. In fact, 58% condemn To adjudge or find guilty of a crime and sentence. To declare a building or ship unsafe for use or occupancy. To decide that a navigable vessel is a prize or is unfit for service. young teenagers having sex as always wrong. Germany (East and West), Austria, and Sweden are exceptions which are much more tolerant than other countries. At the other extreme, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Poland, and the United States present very low acceptance for teenage sex. Extramarital sex elicits, if anything, even stronger disapproval. Across 24 nations, only 4% report that it is not wrong at all for married people to have sex with someone besides their husband or wife. Despite a general consensus across countries that extramarital sex should be condemned con·demn
tr.v. con·demned, con·demn·ing, con·demns
1. To express strong disapproval of: condemned the needless waste of food.
2. , several nations, notably Russia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, show considerably more tolerance. For example, only 36% of Russians are prepared to describe extramarital sex as always wrong, as compared to an average of 66% for all 24 countries.
While not as widely accepted as premarital sex, sexual relations between adults of the same sex do not prompt the strong disapproval that extramarital sex or teen sex does. On average, 24% of national populations regard homosexual behavior as not wrong at all as compared to 59% who view it as always wrong. Attitudes towards homosexual sex, however, show considerable variation from country to country. In most countries (18 of 24), a majority of people report homosexual sex as being always wrong. In the Netherlands, however, about two thirds of the population sees nothing wrong with sexual relations between two adults of the same sex. In Spain, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Norway substantial percentages voice similarly tolerant attitudes, although public opinion is polarized on the issue in those countries. Also accepting of homosexuality, albeit to a lesser extent, are Germany (East and West) and Sweden.
To sum up, with a few notable exceptions there is widespread acceptance of premarital sex across abroad sample of developed nations. This acceptance, however, does not extend to premarital sex between young teenagers, nor to extramarital sex. While more accepted than either extramarital sex or teen sex, homosexuality generates more varied opinions across countries and more polarized responses within nations.
Clusters of Countries
On a variable-try-variable basis, we were able to identify countries which are more or less alike in attitude towards a particular type of nonmarital sex. It remains to be seen whether countries can be typified according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. distinctive sexual regimes; that is, characteristic attitude profiles with respect to all four nonmarital behaviors.
Given 24 countries, there could conceivably con·ceive
v. con·ceived, con·ceiv·ing, con·ceives
1. To become pregnant with (offspring).
2. be anywhere from one to 24 regimes. We hypothesized, however, that a two-group solution, consistent with a simple permissive-nonpermissive dichotomy, would be insufficient to explain differences between countries. To find out whether countries can be gathered in significant clusters with specific profiles, we applied cluster analysis Cluster analysis
A statistical technique that identifies clusters of stocks whose returns are highly correlated within each cluster and relatively uncorrelated across clusters. Cluster analysis has identified groupings such as growth, cyclical, stable, and energy stocks. to the matrix in Table 1. Cluster analysis has been employed previously to elucidate differences between individuals in sexual attitudes (Laumann et al., 1994; Lottes, 1985). Although clustering methodology is often used in cross-national research, this paper is, so far as we can determine, the first to apply cluster analysis to sexual attitudes when contemporary industrial societies are the units of analysis.
To determine the number of regimes, we examined a sequence of hierarchical cluster analyses based upon Ward's method of clustering applied to the nation profiles reported in Table 1. Instead of partitioning To divide a resource or application into smaller pieces. See partition, application partitioning and PDQ. the countries into some predetermined pre·de·ter·mine
v. pre·de·ter·mined, pre·de·ter·min·ing, pre·de·ter·mines
1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance: number of clusters in a single step, this hierarchical procedure produces step-by-step splits (Everitt, 1993). Ward's method minimizes within-cluster variance and thus produces good estimates of cluster groupings. Most of the distance reduction occurred at or before the fifth splitting, and additional splitting resulted in only insignificant changes in variance reduction In mathematics, more specifically in the theory of Monte Carlo methods, variance reduction is a procedure used to increase the precision of the estimates that can be obtained for a given number of iterations. . Thus, the 24 countries can be adequately described as belonging to only six clusters. Consistent with our rejection of a permissive-nonpermissive dichotomy, we conclude that ISSP countries can be described by six distinctive sexual regimes.
Finally, to determine which counties belong to which of the six clusters, we turned to k-mean algorithms to ascertain the optimal clustering solution for the data (Everitt, 1993). K refers to the number of groups, which we specified to be six (k = 6) on the basis of our hierarchical cluster analysis. We employed PAM, a specialized k-mean program which, unlike other k-mean algorithms, is not sensitive to the ordering of cases in the data set. This program finds the most representative country scores and uses them as starting values or seeds to form the six clusters (Kaufman & Roussecuw, 1990).
Final groupings are presented in Table 2 with information about within- and between-cluster sum of squares. Within-cluster sum of squares indicates the distance between countries in each cluster. The lower the within-cluster sum of squares, the better or more homogeneous The same. Contrast with heterogeneous.
homogeneous - (Or "homogenous") Of uniform nature, similar in kind.
1. In the context of distributed systems, middleware makes heterogeneous systems appear as a homogeneous entity. For example see: interoperable network. is the cluster. Between-cluster sum of squares measures the distance between the cluster profile and the average profile model. A larger between-cluster sum of squares indicates a more distinct cluster, and the higher the sum of the between-cluster sum of squares the more differentiated are the clusters.
Table 2. Clusters, Cluster Country Members, and Between- and Within-Cluster Sum of Squares (SS)
Clusters Number of Between-Cluster SS Countries Teen Permissives 5 .72 East Germany, West (.14) Germany, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia Sexual Conservatives 4 .58 USA, Ireland, (.15) Northern Ireland, Poland Homosexual Permissives 5 .59 Netherlands, Norway, (.12) Czech Republic, Canada, Spain Moderate Residuals 8 .08 Australia, Great Britain, (.00) Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, New Zealand, Israel Japan .43 (.43) Philippines .67 (.67) Total 24 3.07 Clusters Within-Cluster SS Ratio (Between S/ Within SS) Teen Permissives .23 3.09 East Germany, West (.05) Germany, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia Sexual Conservatives .07 8.07 USA, Ireland, (.02) Northern Ireland, Poland Homosexual Permissives .29 2.02 Netherlands, Norway, (.06) Czech Republic, Canada, Spain Moderate Residuals .48 0.17 Australia, Great Britain, (.06) Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, New Zealand, Israel Japan -- -- Philippines -- -- Total 1.07 2.87
Note. Numbers in parentheses See parenthesis.
parentheses - See left parenthesis, right parenthesis. are sums of squares divided by number of countries in each cluster.
Two clusters are singletons, that is, a group which contains only one country. The Philippines constitutes its own cluster because of its extremely conservative attitudes toward all kinds of nonmarital sex. In the Philippines there is a consensus that all forms of nonmarital sex are always wrong. The contrast with other counties is especially striking for premarital sex. Japan is also its own cluster, mostly because of its unusual pattern of wrong only sometimes responses concerning premarital sex. On teenage sex and extramarital sex Japan is much like other nations, although the Japanese are more likely than others to report that homosexual sex is always or almost always wrong (87% compared with 68%, on average, across the 24 countries).
The 22 Western countries cluster in four multi-country groups, which we term the Teen Permissives, Sexual Conservatives, Homosexual Permissives, and Moderate Residuals. Average profiles of the first three clusters are presented in Figure 1.
[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The Teen Permissives' cluster, which encompasses Germany (East and West), Austria, Sweden, and Slovenia, is distinguished by relatively high levels of acceptance of teenage sex and premarital sex. As evidenced by the [between-cluster to within-cluster sum of squares ratio of three, this is a fairly strong cluster. Countries of this cluster are more permissive on teenage sex than others (only 35% of respondents chose always wrong as compared to 58%, on average, across the 24 countries). Those countries are also more accepting of premarital sex. Their scores for extramarital sex and homosexual sex, however, closely match the average profile.
The Sexual Conservatives' cluster, which includes Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, and the United States, shows relatively strong disapproval for all types of nonmarital sex. It stands in sharp contrast to the Teen Permissives' regime, which gathered together countries with liberal attitudes toward premarital and teenage sex. For instance, premarital sex is considered always wrong in 28% of the cluster's cases as compared to 17%, on average, for the 24 countries. In fact, the Sexual Conservatives present a U-shaped curve for premarital sex, indicating a polarization polarization
Property of certain types of electromagnetic radiation in which the direction and magnitude of the vibrating electric field are related in a specified way. of opinion on premarital sex not seen in any other cluster. As for other types of nonmarital sex, Sexual Conservatives chose always wrong at a higher rate than average for all questions: teen sex, 78% versus 58%; extramarital sex, 79% versus 66%; and homosexual sex, 74% versus 59%. That the between-cluster sum of squares is eight times larger than the within-cluster sum of squares demonstrates that this cluster is both homogeneous in its views and quite distinct from the average.
The Homosexual Permissives' cluster consists of the Netherlands, Norway, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Spain. With a sum of squares ratio of two, what distinguishes the countries in this cluster is high levels of acceptance of homosexuality. Countries gathered in this cluster have a profile very similar to the average except for homosexual sex. They accept premarital sex, but reject teen sex and particularly extramarital sex. To a large extent, they present a polarized pattern of response for homosexual sex, which is not to be found in other clusters. This cluster shows the same extent of polarization on homosexuality that the Sexual Conservatives' cluster does on premarital sex.
The Moderate Residuals' cluster contains the remaining eight countries. The low sum of squares ratio for the Moderate Residuals (.017) confirms that they are quite heterogeneous and not very distinguishable from the average profile. In fact, the earlier hierarchical clustering analysis scattered Scattered
Used for listed equity securities. Unconcentrated buy or sell interest. these countries across other clusters, thereby increasing the sum of squares within each of those other three clusters. While this category has no real substantive meaning, it serves to increase the coherence coherence, constant phase difference in two or more Waves over time. Two waves are said to be in phase if their crests and troughs meet at the same place at the same time, and the waves are out of phase if the crests of one meet the troughs of another. of the other groups, maximizing the between-cluster sum of squares and minimizing the within-cluster sum of squares for the Sexual Conservatives, Teen Permissives, and Homosexual Permissives.
That the Sexual Conservatives, Teen Permissives, and Homosexual Permissives have distinctive regimes of sexual attitudes is apparent in Figure 1. The Teen Permissives are visibly more likely than the other two clusters to see nothing wrong with premarital sex and notably less likely to judge teen sex as always wrong. Sexual Conservatives are more likely to view each type of nonmarital sex as always wrong, while Homosexual Permissives are less likely to condemn homosexual sex.(2)
How Much Sharing?
In addition to knowing the number of regimes for the countries, we have a good picture of the features of those regimes, but we still do not know how different or how similar countries are in terms of their profiles. To find out the degree to which sexual attitudes are shared across countries, we computed the sum of squares across the 24 rows of Table 1, using the "average" response--25%, the result of dividing the 100% total for each variable by four, its number of response categories--as the reference model. We used the deviation of each cell's observed proportion from .25 to compute To perform mathematical operations or general computer processing. For an explanation of "The 3 C's," or how the computer processes data, see computer. the total sum of squares for the overall data set. To determine how much is shared by countries (shared sum of squares), we computed the sum of squares between the mean proportion for each response category across the 24 countries and the .25 proportion. Then, we compared the within- and between-clusters sum of squares (Table 2) with those numbers. The within-clusters sum of squares, the between-clusters sum of squares, and the shared sum of squares add up to the total sum of squares.
For the 24 countries, the total sum of squares is 21.7, and the shared sum of squares is 17.56. From Table 2, we know that the between sum of squares and the within sum of squares are 3.07 and 1.07 respectively. Percentages for the different sum of squares are presented in Figure 2.
[Figure 2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
ISSP countries have a good deal in common in terms of their views on nonmarital sex. By our calculations, 81% of the variance in attitudes toward nonmarital sex is shared by the 24 countries while 14% is attributable to the six clusters and 5% to country-specific error. Note that when only 22 countries are considered (excluding Japan and the Philippines), 84% is shared, 10% is regime specific, and 6% is country specific.
Drawing on survey data from 24 countries, this paper identifies six distinctive regimes of public opinion regarding the propriety pro·pri·e·ty
n. pl. pro·pri·e·ties
1. The quality of being proper; appropriateness.
2. Conformity to prevailing customs and usages.
3. proprieties The usages and customs of polite society. of nonmarital sex. The analysis confirms that sexual attitudes are considerably more complex than a simplistic sim·plism
The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications.
[French simplisme, from simple, simple, from Old French; see simple permissive-nonpermissive typology typology /ty·pol·o·gy/ (ti-pol´ah-je) the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type.
the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type. of countries might suggest: While attitudes toward premarital sex, teen sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual sex are correlated, they relate to one another in complex ways across countries. While this finding is not likely to surprise researchers on sexuality, this paper offers rigorous confirmation for a large set of countries.
Of course, these countries do not constitute a representative sample of countries or cultures, being limited to 24 largely Western and industrialized nations which chose to participate in the 1994 International Social Survey Program. The only two Asian nations Noun 1. Asian nation - any one of the nations occupying the Asian continent
country, land, state - the territory occupied by a nation; "he returned to the land of his birth"; "he visited several European countries" , Japan and the Philippines, each form a unique, single-country cluster. This demonstrates that they differ not only from Western countries, but also from one another. The Philippines is set apart by particularly conservative attitudes toward all forms of nonmarital sex. For Japan, it is the respondents' propensity to label premarital sex as only sometimes wrong rather than expressing strong approval or disapproval that makes it a singleton sin·gle·ton
An offspring born alone.
singleton Medtalk One baby. Cf Triplet, Twin. . We are hard put to interpret this unique pattern, but it is consistent with one scholar's observation that the Japanese view premarital sex with concern only when it is indiscreet in·dis·creet
Lacking discretion; injudicious: an indiscreet remark.
in or conflicts with social responsibilities (White, 1993). It might also reflect the fact that the Japanese avoid extreme response categories (Hui & Triandis, 1989), although the other three types of nonmarital sex do not elicit e·lic·it
tr.v. e·lic·it·ed, e·lic·it·ing, e·lic·its
a. To bring or draw out (something latent); educe.
b. To arrive at (a truth, for example) by logic.
2. such ambivalent am·biv·a·lent
Exhibiting or feeling ambivalence.
Adj. 1. responses.
As for the Western countries, cluster analysis identifies four sexual regimes: Sexual Conservatives, Teen Permissives, Homosexual Permissives, and Moderate Residuals. Since the cluster analysis shows the United States to belong to the Sexual Conservatives, this study confirms that American sexual values are strikingly nonpermissive. The conservative nature of American moral views about sexuality has long been recognized. Pointing to the Europeans' tolerance of premarital relations and to high rates of extramarital sex reported by European-born informants in the United States, Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin (1948) cautioned against pooling cross-national data for the United States and Continental Europe Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands and, at times, peninsulas. . A half century later, ISSP survey evidence shows Kinsey was correct. The United States is distinctive--markedly more conservative than most European nations in its sexual attitudes. In fact, American attitudes toward nonmarital sex class it with Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Poland--three nations associated with conservative Catholic populations. Other nominally Catholic countries (e.g., Italy) do not fall into this cluster, so the common denominator common denominator
1. Mathematics A quantity into which all the denominators of a set of fractions may be divided without a remainder.
2. A commonly shared theme or trait. of the Sexual Conservatives is not religion per se. An analysis of ISSP data on church attendance, however, does show that the countries grouped as Sexual Conservatives are those where people report attending church frequently.
The cluster analysis also shows that there is no monolithic Single object. Self contained. One unit. Continental attitude toward sexuality in Europe, but rather diversity and nuances in European moral beliefs about premarital sex, teen sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual sex. Besides the Sexual Conservatives, there are two other strong clusters of Western countries: the Teen Permissives and the Homosexual Permissives, in addition to the Moderate Residuals, who fall somewhere in between other clusters. One cluster of countries is relatively tolerant of premarital sex and even teen sex. Another cluster is distinguished by comparatively high acceptance of homosexuality.
As for the Teen Permissives' cluster, researchers have viewed Sweden as unusually accepting of sex before marriage (Linner, 1967) for decades. Even acceptance of teenage sexuality is regarded as "unremarkable in a country like Sweden, with its long history of support for sexual freedom, and the absence there of taboos against premarital sex" (Jones et al., 1985, p. 59). The cluster analysis shows that Sweden is not uniquely permissive in terms of approval of premarital sex. As indicated by their membership in the Teen Permissives' cluster, Germany (East and West), Austria, and Slovenia hold views about premarital sex and teenage sex which are very similar to those of Sweden. If illegitimate ILLEGITIMATE. That which is contrary to law; it is usually applied to children born out of lawful wedlock. A bastard is sometimes called an illegitimate child. fertility--high by European standards--may be taken as an indication of tolerance of sex before marriage, then Sweden, Germany, and Austria were all relatively permissive regarding premarital sex even at the end of the nineteenth century (Knodel, 1974).
The Netherlands, Norway, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Spain are distinguished by their tolerance for homosexual sex, but there are differences within the Homosexual Permissives' cluster as well. Most countries which register high levels of tolerance toward homosexuality are also deeply divided. While big shares of the population see nothing wrong with same-sex relations, significant segments consider homosexuality to be always wrong. The exception is the Netherlands, where the majority of residents have come to accept the more tolerant views. A number of factors have been cited to account for Dutch open-mindedness on sexual matters. Although opposition of conservative religious elements deters broad acceptance of homosexuality in many countries, Oosterhuis (1996) notes that Dutch Christian communities have been a progressive force in redefining homosexuality from a sin to a personal issue warranting Christian compassion. To explain permissive Dutch attitudes, others have commented on the unusually long history of the Dutch homosexual movement (Tielman, 1987), the self-conscious pluralism pluralism, in philosophy, theory that considers the universe explicable in terms of many principles or composed of many ultimate substances. It describes no particular system and may be embodied in such opposed philosophical concepts as materialism and idealism. of the Netherlands, the Netherlands, The
officially Kingdom of The Netherlands byname Holland
Country, northwestern Europe. Area: 16,034 sq mi (41,528 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 16,300,000. Capital: Amsterdam. Seat of government: The Hague. Most of the people are Dutch. secularism sec·u·lar·ism
1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education. of its population, and the candor can·dor
1. Frankness or sincerity of expression; openness.
2. Freedom from prejudice; impartiality.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin, from and coverage of sexual topics in the mass media (Jones et al., 1986).
While it is valuable to know which countries cluster together, it is also revealing to note which countries adopt different sexual regimes. As we indicated, there is no distinctive regime that characterizes Catholic countries. Nor does a history of socialism The history of socialism, sometimes termed 'modern socialism', finds its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, although it has precedents in earlier movements and ideas. lead to a singular view of nonmarital sexuality: In fact, formerly communist countries are to be found in each of the four clusters of Western nations. If there is an Anglo-Saxon tradition of sexual attitudes, it extends to Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, but not to the United States, Canada, or Ireland. Although Scandinavian countries Noun 1. Scandinavian country - any one of the countries occupying Scandinavia
European country, European nation - any one of the countries occupying the European continent are generally assumed to share a similarly tolerant attitude toward sexuality (Jones et al., 1986), Norway is seen to be less tolerant of premarital sex, especially young teen sex, and more approving of homosexuality than is Sweden. Indeed, the results of our study serve to place findings for individual countries in a broader comparative context, which helps to evaluate popular beliefs about particular countries and to point out new research issues. For example, on the basis of a careful analysis of the best data available to him, the distinguished Russian sex researcher Igor Kon (1995) concluded that Russian sexual values were "very similar to those of the Western world" (p. 177). While our analysis generally confirms this for attitudes toward premarital sex, teen sex, and homosexual sex, Russians' greater tolerance of extramarital sex warrants further consideration.
Although this study reveals different normative regimes, it also points out that there is much sharing going on between countries. Compared to cognitive maps Cognitive maps, mental maps, mind maps, cognitive models, or mental models are a type of mental processing (cognition) composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual can acquire, code, store, recall, and decode information about the relative locations of emotions and kinship kinship, relationship by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) between persons; also, in anthropology and sociology, a system of rules, based on such relationships, governing descent, inheritance, marriage, extramarital sexual relations, and sometimes terms (Romney, Boyd, Moore, Batchelder, & Brazill, 1996; Romney, Moore, & Rusch, 1997), the 81% of variance in sexual attitudes which is shared can be regarded as high. This degree of sharing reflects the fact that cultures around the globe have been shown to make use of only a small proportion of the logically possible combination of sexual norms (Heise, 1967). Because our analysis focuses on a relatively homogeneous subset A group of commands or functions that do not include all the capabilities of the original specification. Software or hardware components designed for the subset will also work with the original. of largely industrialized and Western nations in an increasingly globalized world, the potential for overlap in moral judgments about sex is undoubtedly high. In general, these 24 nations take a cautious stance toward all types of nonmarital sex except premarital relations among adults.
Despite considerable agreement across cultures on the rightness and wrongness of nonmarital sex, the cluster analysis finds six distinct moral regimes typifying the 24 countries examined. Leaving aside the distinctive profiles of Japan and the Philippines, Western nations can he grouped with other countries that share their general conservatism, their acceptance of premarital sex, or their tolerance toward homosexuality. These sexual regimes exist even though pluralistic and contradictory values about sex may flourish within national populations, as seen most clearly in the polarized attitudes toward homosexual sex and premarital sex in several nations. Across nations, extramarital sex (which is generally disapproved) generates the most agreement, while attitudes toward homosexual sex and teen sex differentiate countries and clusters.
(1) The data utilized in this paper were documented and made available by the Zentralarchiv Fuer Empirische Sozialforschung, Koeln. The data were collected for the ISSP by independent institutions in each country. Neither the original collectors nor the Zentralarchiv bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.
(2) Let us underline underline
an animal's ventral profile; the shape of the belly when viewed from the side, e.g. pendulous, pot-belly, tucked up, gaunt. that the clusters do not correlate with questionnaire types. Comparing results of Table 2 with Appendix A, one can see that modes of data collection are evenly distributed across clusters.
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Manuscript accepted March 18, 1998
Appendix A. Description of the national samples Countries Sample Size % Female Mean Age Australia 1779 49 49.5 Austria 977 56 46.3 Bulgaria 1126 60 48.3 Canada 1440 63 38.1 Czech Republic 1024 55 41.5 Germany (East) 1097 52 47.0 Germany (West) 2324 49 45.2 Great-Britain 993 55 46.8 Hungary 1500 58 48.7 Ireland 938 52 45.7 Israel 1287 55 41.1 Italy 1021 51 42.7 Japan 1306 55 41.3 Netherlands 1968 55 43.5 New Zealand 1047 59 45.8 Northern Ireland 647 53 46.6 Norway 2087 55 40.4 Philippines 1200 50 38.3 Poland 1597 55 45.6 Russia 1998 64 40.8 Slovenia 1032 54 42.8 Spain 2494 52 44.4 Sweden 1272 53 44.8 USA 1447 59 45.9 Countries Questionnaire Mode Australia Mail Austria Face to face Bulgaria Face to face Canada Self-completion Czech Republic Face to face Germany (East) Self-completion Germany (West) Self-completion Great-Britain Self-completion Hungary Face to face Ireland Face to face Israel Face to face Italy Face to face Japan Face to lace Netherlands Face to face New Zealand Mail Northern Ireland Self-completion Norway Mail Philippines Face to face Poland Mail Russia Self-completion Slovenia Face to face Spain Face to face Sweden Mail USA Self-completion
Eric D. Widmer, Judith Treas, and Robert Newcomb
University of California-Irvine
Address correspondence to Eric D. Widmer, Department of Anthropology, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-5100; e-mail: Widmere@orion.oac.uci.edu