The Pew Research Global Attitudes Project recently released data on attitudes about homosexuality in 39 countries. Generally, those living in the Middle East and Africa were the least accepting, while those in the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia (the Philippines, Australia, and to a lesser extent Japan) were most accepting:
Generally, the more religious a country, the less accepting its citizens are of homosexuality:
The proportion of people who support social acceptance of gays and lesbians ranged from a high of 88% in Spain to a low of 1% in Nigeria:
Attitudes about homosexuality vary widely by age. There is a pretty consistent global pattern of more positive attitudes among younger people, with a few exceptions:
Thus far, legalization of same-sex marriage has been largely confined to the Americas and Europe; New Zealand and South Africa are the two outliers:
The Pew Center points out that of the 15 nations that have fully extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, 8 have done so just since 2010. In the U.S., we’re currently awaiting a Supreme Court’s decision, which should arrive shortly, to know if we’ll be joining the list sooner rather than later.
Thanks to Peter Nardi at Pitzer College for the link!
Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.
There’s a write up of the study here. In a nutshell, they took 3,000 people from 22 places and asked them to rate the personality of 30 fictional people based on brief descriptions (which were the same, but translated into the local language). Ratings were on a 1 to 5 scale.
It turned out that some populations handed out more of the extreme 1 or 5 responses. Hong Kong, South Korea and Germany tended to give middle of the road 2, 3 and 4 ratings, while Poland, Burkina Faso and people from Changchun in China were much more fond of 1s and 5s.
The characters they were rating were the same in all cases, remember.
Crucially, when the participants rated themselves on the same personality traits, they tended to follow the same pattern. Koreans rated themselves to have more moderate personality traits, compared to Burkinabés who described themselves in stronger tones.
Whether this is a cultural difference or a linguistic one is perhaps debatable; it might be a sign that it is not easy to translate English-language personality words into certain languages without changing how ‘strong’ they sound. However, either way, it’s a serious problem for psychologists interested in cross-cultural studies.
I’ve long suspected that something like this might lie behind the very large differences in reported rates of mental illness across countries. Studies have found that about 3 times as many people in the USA report symptoms of mental illness compared to people in Spain, yet the suicide rate is almost the same, which is odd because mental illness is strongly associated with suicide.
One explanation would be that some cultures are more likely to report ‘higher than normal’ levels of distress, anxiety — a bit like how some make more extreme judgements of personality.
So it would be very interesting to check this by comparing the results of this paper to the international mental illness studies. Unfortunately, the countries sampled don’t overlap enough to do this yet (as far as I can see).
Source: Mõttus R, et al (2012). The Effect of Response Style on Self-Reported Conscientiousness Across 20 Countries. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin PMID: 22745332
Neuroskeptic blogs anonymously here. You can also follow him on Twitter.
In a previous post I discussed how the U.S. became more religious in the 1950s, in part in response to its the Cold War enemies (atheist communists). In fact, the U.S. is among the most religious countries in the world. Using data from the International Social Survey Programme, Sociologist Tom Smith paints wildly different religious portraits of 28 nations (full text).
When asked whether they “know that God really exists and… have no doubt about it,” 61% of Americans say “yes.” Of the 28 nations studied, only four were more likely to say “yes” to this question: Poland, Israel, Chile, and the Philippines. Here’s how we look compared to similar countries:
Here’s all 28 in rank order (borrowed from LiveScience). Notice how wide the divergence is. In Japan, the least religious country according to this measure, only 4% say they have no doubt God exists. In The Philippines, 84% have no doubt.
% Have No Doubt God Exists:
Japan: 4.3 percent
East Germany: 7.8 percent
Czech Republic: 11.1
Great Britain: 16.8
The Netherlands: 21.2
New Zealand: 26.4
West Germany: 26.7
Northern Ireland: 45.6
United States: 60.6
The Philippines: 83.6
Americans are also particularly likely to believe in a “personal God,” one who is closely attentive to the lives of each and every person.
Quite interestingly, the U.S. is in the minority in that Americans tend to become increasingly religious as they age. In most countries, people become less religious over time. This graph (confusingly labeled), shows changes in DISbelief over the life course. The U.S. is the only country among these in which disbelief declines:
Lifetime Change in Religiosity (from increase in disbelief to increase in belief):
The Netherlands: -14.0
Great Britain: -10.1
Germany (East): -6.9
Czech Republic: -5.5
Germany (West): -5.4
New Zealand: -4.0
The Philippines: +0.8
Northern Ireland: +1.0
United States: +1.4
Rates of atheism — a strong disbelief in God — also vary tremendously. East Germany is the most atheist, with more than half of citizens claiming disbelief. The country is a stark contrast to the atheist among them, Poland and the U.S. (only 3% atheist), Chile and Cyprus (2%), and The Phillipines (1%).
East Germany: 52.1
Czech Republic: 39.9
The Netherlands: 19.7
Great Britain: 18.0
New Zealand: 12.6
West Germany: 10.3
Northern Ireland: 6.6
United States: 3.0
The Philippines: 0.7
As a post-9/11 American watching another election cycle, I can’t help but notice how so much of our rhetoric revolves — sometimes overtly and sometimes not — around people who are the wrong religion. Notably, Muslims. And yet, the U.S. and many Muslim countries are alike in being strongly religious, at least in comparison to the many strongly secular countries.
This is odd because stands in contrast to recent data on American attitudes. Within the U.S., people express much less tolerance for atheists than they do Muslims (homosexuals, African Americans, and immigrants). Weirdly, we think we have more in common with more secular nations like Great Britain than we do with countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In certain ways, the opposite might be true.
Yesterday I posted about U.S. immigration trends, updated through 2010. Following up on that, Dolores R. found another immigration-related post by KPCC…this time, a look at the wait time to get a family-sponsored immigration visa. With the removal of strict, racialized quotas in 1965, the U.S. turned to a policy based on a set of priorities for deciding who would be granted a visa; among the various categories was a preference for those who had sponsoring relatives already living in the U.S., with different visas and priorities based on family relationship:
F1 = unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
F2A = spouses and children (under age 21) of permanent residents
F2B = unmarried adult children of permanent residents
F3 = married adult children of U.S. citizens
F4 = siblings of adult U.S. citizens
According to the U.S. State Department, the annual minimum family-reunification visa target is 226,000 (note that this excludes spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens, who are highest priority for immigration and are exempt from immigration caps). The Immigration and Naturalization Act requires that family-sponsorsed (as well as employer-sponsored) visas be granted in the order that eligible potential immigrants applied. Unsurprisingly, many years there are more eligible applicants than there are available visas, leading to a backlog of individuals who qualify to immigrate but are waiting for a visa to become available. In particular, China, Mexico, India, and the Philippines are “oversubscribed,” meaning there is a significant backlog.
How long? The table below shows the cut-0ff date for visa applicants in each category as of January 2012. That is, the dates given here are the date by which a person had to apply to finally have a visa available this month; the 2nd column shows for all areas excluding the four countries singled out because of their particularly long wait times:
The least oversubscribed visa category is the F2A, where those now receiving visas will have waited a bit under 3 years. But look at some of the other dates listed. For F1, F2B, and F3 visas from Mexico, the people now at the head of the line have been waiting nearly two decades, having applied in 1992 or early 1993. F4 applicants from the Philippines have been waiting almost a quarter century, since 1988.
This is part of the reason why undocumented immigration continues, and arguments about fairness and waiting their turn in line may not be particularly compelling to individuals who want to reunite with family members in the U.S. Waiting a year, or two, or five, may seem reasonable. If you learn there’s a 20-year wait, the cost/benefit analysis of whether to wait for the visa to come through or to find other means may shift significantly, regardless of how otherwise law-abiding a person might be.
David Mayeda, at The Grumpy Sociologist, posted a 12-minute video on the debate over state-provided birth control in The Philippines. The Philippines is a largely Catholic society. Accordingly, it’s a good example of the way that individual lives are shaped by state policy, policy that is often influenced by powerful institutions.
And — lest we condemn The Philippines as particularly problematic in this area — let’s not forget the many ways in which religion has influenced family planning in the U.S.: “abstinence only” sex education, the increasing rarity of abortion services, the “conscience clause” that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, and many more examples…
Dmitriy T.M. sent us a link to an AdWeek post reporting that Miller Beer began advertising in Vietnam last week with this commercial:
Some sociologists who study international relations apply the idea of the brand to nations. Nations, they argue, can be seen as a product in a global marketplace. Australia, for example, is marketed as a rough and tumble place where we can get back to nature and find our true selves. Insofar as they can can control their brand, countries can draw tourism and increase demand for their exports (see here and here for Australian examples).
The ad above is an excellent example of Miller capitalizing on the American brand: “It’s American Time. It’s Miller Time.” Notice also that the ad is in English and doesn’t feature anyone that looks Vietnamese. The whiteness of the ad is purposeful. Miller is selling a specific version of “America” characterized by white people, urban life, sex-mixed socializing and, also, really bad music.
UPDATE!In the comments, Adam linked to this ad which ran in the Phillipines: