Sunday, February 24, 2008

Practicality vs Morality

Yesterday, my wife and I attended this parenting talk sponsored by my son’s high school PTA, where a well-known ad agency was sharing some of its findings regarding a 2005 study they made on Teen Attitudes and Trends in the Philippines. The ad agency made the study purportedly to help them devise strategies in selling soft drinks and other consumer goods, but found some revealing data which they decided to share with academe for educational purposes. My hat tip to this ad agency. They promised to issue a public copy of the survey, and I will be more specific when I get to that.

Their study revolved around a survey of various age groups about many areas of preferences, which were garnered by posing these two questions:

1. Which ones are right or wrong?

2. Which ones are acceptable to society?

Among the areas surveyed were the following:

- Casual Sex

- Hazing

- Gambling

- Pornography

- Abortion

- Taking something without paying

As of the year 2005, around 50% of the teen group (aged 20 and below) generally found the above items more “right” than “wrong”, and found these items more acceptable to society. That is certainly a revealing insight into our teen group’s perceptions. What is more revealing though is that the next age group (21-30) were even more - shall we say liberal, in that more numbers in this age group thought the items in question were “more right than wrong”. This led the presenter to surmise that, contrary to common views, older people tend to be more liberal than their teen-aged counterparts, and that as we grow older, we tend to loosen up on personal values.

It was surmised further that young people increasingly go for what they deem are “practical”. For instance, it was noted that abortion might be deemed more practical for a teenager with an unplanned pregnancy, considering in large part the practical avoidance of consequent disruption in studies and preparations for a career.

All of which says that a significant portion of our population is taking on a more amoral stance - something of a variance in a country comprised of 85% or so Catholics. It may be said here that objective morality does not hold sway over notions of practicality. This is certainly something that psychologists, sociologists, educators, religious moralists, and of course –soft drinks and other consumer goods manufacturers, should further look into. I am not sure how it goes, but somehow I am seeing the connection with the corruption scandals we are seeing in our country right now.

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