Matters of Life and ? Correlates of Public Opinion on Abortion and The Death Penalty

Malcolm T. Meyer, The College of Wooster


This paper attempts to reveal the forces in society that help form people's attitudes towards capital punishment and abortion. Little research has been conducted on both issues simultaneously in this area and this paper attempts to fill that gap. A typology of attitudes about abortion and capital punishment views has been created: people who oppose capital punishment and favor abortion hold Type I views; people who oppose both issues hold Type II views; people that favor both issues hold Type III views; and people who oppose capital punishment and favor abortion hold Type IV views. Four hypotheses are tested through a secondary analysis of the 1996 NORC data using a oneway analysis of variance. The findings follow the previous research and the theories of Durkheim and Marx, demonstrating a correlation between education, belief in institutional racism, political views, urbanization and types I and IV. The results also reveal a correlation between religious devotion and reverence for life - Type II. Finally, the study finds a correlation between high levels of education and favoring both abortion and capital punishment - Type III. Further research in this area could split the typology by controlling for capital punishment and abortion views.


© Copyright 1998 Malcolm T. Meyer