Variables Which Influence the Decision to Terminate Life: A Study of Attitudes Toward Euthanasia
This study examines how the ideological variables of religiosity, religious and political affiliation, and afterlife beliefs along with the demographic variables of parental education, sex, income, race, and region can be used to predict attitudes toward active and passive euthanasia. These variables and their influence on euthanasia attitudes are examined mainly within the ration choice framework which asserts that when considering euthanasia the value of life is weight against other alternatives. In addition to investigating the above variables, this study also examines whether or not people tend to make a distinction between active or passive euthanasia and suicide. And finally, this study also examines whether support for euthanasia is more of an abstract right-to-choose nature, or whether those who support euthanasia personally approve of it and would practice it if confronted with the choice. To assess the above research interests, a self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 115 College of Wooster students in three introductory classes. Results indicated that parental education was significantly (p<.05) related to approval of passive euthanasia, and that political affiliation, religiosity, belief in an afterlife, and belief in a consequential afterlife were significantly (p<.05) related to approval of active euthanasia. Results also indicated that the variables of race, gender, income, region, and religious affiliation were not significantly related to either active or passive euthanasia attitudes. In addition, the percentage of respondents who indicated that they supported passive euthanasia was greater than the percentage who indicated that they supported active euthanasia. And finally, results also showed that those respondents who indicated that they approved of active or passive euthanasia in general also tended to approve of avtive or passive euthanasia for themselves and their loved ones. Future research, focusing on the exploration of attitudes toward specific euthanasia situations, is suggested.
© Copyright 1997 Mary Beth Weimer