Friday, April 03, 2009

Extramarital sex increasingly seen as wrong

++Addition++Jason Malloy shows that the improvement is one more of words than of actions:
When matched for age, those who became adults before or surrounding WWII cheated little (pre sexual revolution, b. 1900-1939). Those who became adults during the 60s and 70s cheated the most (sexual revolution, b. 1940-1959). Those who became adults in the 80s, 90s, 00s began cheating less (post sexual revolution, b. 1960-1990).

Have cheated on spouse:
Age 18-29
b. 1976-1990 - 12.5%
b. 1960-1975 - 12.4%

Age 30-40
b. 1960-1979 - 13.8%
b. 1950-1959 - 17.1%

Age 45-50
b. 1960-1969 - 16.3%
b. 1950-1959 - 21.6%
b. 1940-1949 - 21.4%

Age 60+
b. 1940-1949 - 22.6%
b. 1920-1939 - 14.5%
b. 1900-1919 - 7.3%

Cheating doubled for men between the 1900 and 1940 cohort, but quadrupled for women. They apparently had to move faster to catch up.

All those corny 50s kids on Leave it to Beaver grew up to be the most debauched generation.

The answers on XMARSEX also reflect this generational difference, with the SexRev cohort saying it is the least wrong. The post SexRev-ers are bigger hypocrites though. Their moral answers are almost identical to the 1900-1919 cohort, even though they cheat a whole lot more. The numbers above don't indicate the youngest generation are getting better behavior-wise, even if they are high in moral lip service.

Cheating always wrong
b. 1910-1919 - 84.5%
b. 1920-1939 - 79.2%
b. 1940-1949 - 71.9%
b. 1950-1959 - 70.8%
b. 1960-1979 - 79.0%
b. 1980-1990 - 83.4%
Hypocritically censuring a pathological behavior that is engaged in is still an improvement over embracing that pathology.

---

A month ago, Inductivist revealed a "moral recession" among young Americans by pointing to the increased acceptance of homosexual relations, a drop in church attendance, and a growing acceptance of abortion for any reason (it's difficult to detect this last one in the data he presents, however) over time. From a socially conservative point of view, these trends are surely disheartening.

But there is a bright spot regarding an issue that is less poralizing--the declining moral acceptance of extramarital sex. The following graph includes the same age range of 18-29 examined by Inductivist. The first year presented is 1973, with responses for every year or two after that, ending with 2008. The average annual sample size is 348.

Agnostic has repeatedly argued that sexual promiscuity (or as he terms it, "slutiness") among the young has been trending downward for years. It looks like that holds not just in terms of actual behavior, but also in professed beliefs of what constitutes acceptable sexual behavior in the first place.

GSS variables used: XMARSEX, YEAR, AGE(18-29)

8 comments:

Jason Malloy said...

Another way of looking at it is behavior. EVSTRAY asks if you've ever cheated (or swinged) while married.

When matched for age, those who became adults before or surrounding WWII cheated little (pre sexual revolution, b. 1900-1939). Those who became adults during the 60s and 70s cheated the most (sexual revolution, b. 1940-1959). Those who became adults in the 80s, 90s, 00s began cheating less (post sexual revolution, b. 1960-1990).



Have cheated on spouse:
Age 18-29
b. 1976-1990 - 12.5%
b. 1960-1975 - 12.4%

Age 30-40
b. 1960-1979 - 13.8%
b. 1950-1959 - 17.1%

Age 45-50
b. 1960-1969 - 16.3%
b. 1950-1959 - 21.6%
b. 1940-1949 - 21.4%

Age 60+
b. 1940-1949 - 22.6%
b. 1920-1939 - 14.5%
b. 1900-1919 - 7.3%

Cheating doubled for men between the 1900 and 1940 cohort, but quadrupled for women. They apparently had to move faster to catch up.

All those corny 50s kids on Leave it to Beaver grew up to be the most debauched generation.



The answers on XMARSEX also reflect this generational difference, with the SexRev cohort saying it is the least wrong. The post SexRev-ers are bigger hypocrites though. Their moral answers are almost identical to the 1900-1919 cohort, even though they cheat a whole lot more. The numbers above don't indicate the youngest generation are getting better behavior-wise, even if they are high in moral lip service.


Cheating always wrong
b. 1910-1919 - 84.5%
b. 1920-1939 - 79.2%
b. 1940-1949 - 71.9%
b. 1950-1959 - 70.8%
b. 1960-1979 - 79.0%
b. 1980-1990 - 83.4%

Jokah Macpherson said...

"All those corny 50s kids on Leave it to Beaver grew up to be the most debauched generation."

So that's where the show got its name.

One thing I don't like about these variables is that they only measure "debauchery" after getting married. Although it's far worse to cheat while married, jumping from bed to bed every night while single is probably not very smart or socially healthy either.

Steve Sailer said...

Movies these days are very anti-adultery, far more so than a generation ago.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jokah,

The data on number of sexual partners only goes back to the late eighties or early nineties, depending on the variable used. In both cases, there isn't much of a discernible trend one way or the other. It's flat year after year, backing up what Jason shows above. Still, the morality shift is encouraging.

Steve,

And over the same time, the Hollywood portrayal of homosexuals has become more fawning, right? If so, that meshes with what Inductivist showed--acceptance of homosexuality is increasing while acceptance of extramarital sex is decreasing.

Anonymous said...

Audacious,

Perhaps this younger generation, of whom so many grew up in broken homes, know first hand how much it hurts and -truly-alienates the children when mom and dad can't stay together because one of them didn't love the *whole family* enough to keep their clothes on.....


Just a thought.


You have a very insightful quantitative blog BTW.

Audacious Epigone said...

Just a thought.

Yes, and a hopeful one at that.

Thanks for the compliment.

Jay Fink said...

Just a thought could be on to something. When I was a kid my dad cheated on my mom. She found out when she got an STD. They soon divorced after that. I remember how sad I was, how much I cried when they split up.

I am one of the most anti-extramarital sex people there is. I wish we could destroy the lives of husbands who cheat. I would even go as far as stoning cheating husbands.

I always thought the reason I was so passionate about this subject is my belief that cheating causes a defacto polygamy situation where alpha males monopolize the marriage market. If no husbands cheated (and those that did severly punished) women would settle for good, decent beta males and we would return to traditional family values, children raised by two loving parents etc. But now I am open to the idea that my childhood experiences have contributed to my extreme anti-adultery views.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jay,

I'd guess it's a combination of both. With that deep a personal wound, it's hard to imagine you'd be able to approach the issue entirely clinically.

The possibility that our man gets cuckolded into raising the child of another man who engaged in extramarital sex with our man's wife is disastrous for our man, who will likely put much less investment in the child if he discovers what has happened. This is obviously bad for society. The same sentiments or inclinations or whatever you want to call them are probably at work to a lesser extent in regular relationships. Extramarital sex is thus a destructive pathology in my view.