All entries for Thursday 08 March 2007

March 08, 2007

The Secrets of Morality

What is morality?

I've been handing out surveys. The questions are not all specifically on morality. They look like this:

Anonymous Survey

What’s the point of this survey?

My name is Gwen Kent and I am an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Warwick. I have been instructed to investigate whatever I am intrigued by for a report – my chosen path was that of our relationship, as individuals, with society. This survey is a way of gathering general information about people’s relationship with their social surroundings. Thank you for your time.

1. Have you ever had desires that you never told anyone about?
No (if no go to question 3)

2. Is this because they are socially unacceptable, or because you are embarrassed by them?
Because they are socially unacceptable
Because you are embarrassed

Other (please specify)

3. Have you ever seriously considered doing something that you wanted to do, but resisted it because of what others would think?

No (if no go to question 5)

4. Who were these ‘others’? (tick all that apply)

Your parents
Your family in general
Your friends
Your fellow workers

Society in general

5. Have your ever seen a psychiatrist?
Yes (go to question 8)

6. Have you ever felt you needed to see a psychiatrist?
No (go to question 8)

7. Why didn’t you? (tick all that apply)
I felt my problem wasn’t serious enough
I thought I could handle it by myself
Religion helped me through it
My friends helped me through it
My parents helped me through it
A sibling helped me through it
I didn’t have enough money.

8. Are you religious?

9. If your answer to question 8. was ‘yes’: how ‘religious’ (ie, how much do you believe in and follow the doctrines of your religion) are you?
Very religious
Fairly religious
I only loosely follow the doctrines of my religion

10. If you answer to question 8. was ‘no’: how do you feel about there being no written document which gives one a moral code to follow?
No problem, I follow my own moral code
The Law is my code 

I follow what my family and friends think have taught me is moral
Morals are a fiction (go to question 13)

11. Would you say you are a moral person?
I’m not sure

12. In as few words as possible, explain what the word ‘moral’ means to you.

13. Have you ever considered that your personality is a construct, developed by the fear of what other’s opinions of you are?
Yes, and I disagree
Yes, and I agree
Yes, and I’m not sure whether it’s true or not
Haven’t thought about it

14. Have you ever been afraid that your life, due to social expectations, will not be what you want it to be?

15. Rank the following characteristics 1-9, according to you, in order of positivity and importance (1 being most positive/important, 9 being least):




Sense of Humour






16. Rank the following characteristics 1-8, according to you, in order of negativity (1 being most negative, 8 being least):









Basically, I constructed the survey before I knew precisely what I wanted to look at, but now - based on the few results I have - I'm intrigued by questions 11, 12 and 13. Everybody so far said they were a moral person, but few actually described what they thought 'moral' meant. The most intriguing and provokative definition so far is: Following the rules of society. Considering what others would want you to do in a particular situation.

Some people have been most affronted by question 13, saying 'that's ridiculous, you're a fool, who in the world thinks that', while others have raised no objections whatsoever and quietly ticked the box 'Yes, and I agree'.

If you would like to assist me in my project, by filling out a servey or leaving a comment on any of the mentioned issues, please do. You can send a filled out a survey to my email,, if the mood takes you.

ps, a big thank you to those who have already taken part. :)

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