Bite Sized Science: Let's Talk About Sex

by endlesspsych

By Keir Liddle

Scots have traditionally been viewed as having a somewhat conservative attitude towards sex, yet new research recently reported seems to suggest that Scottish attitudes towards bidey-ins (Aberdonian for one half of an unmarried, but living together, couple) and lumbers (sex) in general is becoming more relaxed.

Every year since 1999, one thousand five hundred Scots have been interviewed by the National Centre for Social Research to gather data for the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which aims to provide authoritative data on a range of social, moral and political attitudes.

The reporting of this year’s results has caught some media interest because of the implication that social attitudes in Scotland towards sex are getting more relaxed (information on this and the other topics covered can be found here).

The data will be made available in one year’s time at the UK Data Archive, and then there will likely be a more informed debate about the specific methodology and definitions used,  but in the meantime, here are the main findings reported in the media and on the centre’s website:

Initial findings from our 2010 survey reveal that Scottish attitudes to sex are relaxed.  

  • Only 13% think that sex before marriage is always or mostly wrong.
  • As many as 69% think it is all right for a couple to live together without intending to get married.
  • Just 36% feel that people who want to have children ought to get married.
  • As many as 55% feel that contraception should be more easily available to teenagers, including those aged under 16.
  • A clear majority, 58%, feel that sex between two adults of the same sex is either ‘rarely’ or ‘not wrong at all’. Ten years ago only 37% agreed with these statements.
  • Ten years ago just over half of Scots (54%) thought that people who wanted to have children should get married. Now only one third of people (36%) think this.

Regular churchgoers, who count for one in eight of all adults in Scotland, do not share the relaxed attitudes adopted by the majority of Scots. 

  • As many as 49% of regular church goers feel that sex before marriage is always or mostly wrong.
  • 69% believe that people who want to have children should get married.
  • Only 26% say that same sex relationships are ‘rarely’ or ‘never wrong’.
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