What is more Immorral? Distracted Driving or Smoking Marijuana?

April 28th, 2010 by Ravi Iyer

The answer is that it depends on whom you ask.  Below is a graph based on yourmorals data where participants were randomly assigned to answer whether they agreed that “XXX is immoral” about one of seven health behaviors.

As you can see, conservatives feel that ingesting all types of substances (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine) are more moral issues, compared to liberals. Liberals appear to moralize driving while using a cellphone and eating unhealthy food a bit more than conservatives.

Interestingly, liberal visitors felt that distracted driving is about as immoral as using cocaine and much more immoral than smoking marijuana. Conservatives, on the other hand, felt that the use of illicit drugs (cocaine and marijuana) was more immoral than driving while using a cellphone. This is perhaps another way to show the robust moral foundations theory finding that liberals care more about issues of harm (e.g. distracted drivers might kill someone), while conservatives care more about issues of purity (e.g. taking drugs is unnatural) and authority (e.g. especially illegal drugs).

– Ravi Iyer

edit: I had a few request for the sample size.  1,538 liberals and 337  conservatives took this study for this analysis.

Posted in conservatives, differences between republicans and democrats, distracted driving, drug laws, illegal drugs, liberals, moral foundations, moral psychology, purity, smoking marijuana, unpublished results, yourmorals.org4 Comments »

4 Responses to “What is more Immorral? Distracted Driving or Smoking Marijuana?”

  1. Steve Roth says:

    What conclusions would you draw from the uniformly smaller error bars for liberals? The general perception (in accordance for once with a large body of research–including yours?) is that conservatives are more in agreement/lock-step than liberals, at least on political issues. Does this contradict that?

  2. Ravi Iyer says:

    Actually, that is just due to the larger number of liberals who take the survey vs. conservatives. I’m sure there are some issues where liberals agree more than conservatives though….but the error bars aren’t evidence for this, in this case.

  3. Brandon Terrizzi says:

    What was the entire sample size (con. + lib.) please?

  4. Ravi Iyer says:

    1,538 liberals and 337 conservatives…I’ll add it to the post. Thanks for the prompt.

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