TORONTO, Sept. 18 /CNW/ – A national survey commissioned by Astral Media’s The Movie Network (eastern Canada) and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central (western Canada) conducted by Ipsos Reid, suggests that the country possesses a strong moral compass overall, with 95% of the population indicating that they live their lives in a moral way, as do those around them (81%). Yet, when responding to potential scenarios, a surprising number of Canadians admit that they are willing to act immorally.
"Whatever might be the high-minded moralities expressed by Canadians these days, the dirty little secret remains: we are not as virtuous and upstanding as we may appear. We all have personal and varying boundaries that govern how far we will go, but we are willing to bend the law or make compromises to our morality within those boundaries. It could be as benign as jay-walking or as bad as causing personal harm, committing theft or exacting our own form of revenge. Yet there is a little demon in all of us," said Gary Elijah Dann, Ph.D., Th.D., Instructor, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto.
The survey, conducted among 1,000 Canadians in August 2006, found that one-quarter (25%) of respondents would not turn in a loved one if they knew they had committed a crime, while one in four (24%) would do a favour for a friend or family member even if they thought it was ethically questionable.
Two in five Canadians (42%) confess that they would lie to get ahead in life, but most draw the line at allowing someone else take the fall with just 7% admitting that they would let an innocent person assume the blame.
When probed about specific immoral acts, all of which can be regarded as criminal offences, 17% of the population admit that they would depart the scene without leaving a note if they backed into someone’s car and no one witnessed the act; 12% say they would not return a found wallet with $100 in it; and, 10% claim that they would not tell a cashier if they were mistakenly handed a $20 bill in change instead of a $10 bill.
The study coincides with the upcoming premiere of Showtime’s highly-anticipated crime thriller series Dexter, debuting Monday, October 2 at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and Sunday, October 1 at 8 p.m. PT on Movie Central. This 12-part series, based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, follows Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensic investigator for the Miami Police Department, who takes the law into his own hands by killing the criminal and morally bankrupt who are above the law or who have slipped through the cracks of justice. Dexter’s determination to right the wrongs of society is admirable despite his questionable rationalization and unusual work methods.
Turning from morality and criminal behaviour to justice, 59% of Canadians have confidence in the justice system, but one-third (34%) of the population would take the law into their own hands if they felt it was warranted. However, it may be difficult to ensure that justice is served when one in ten Canadians (12%) admit that they would side with the majority on a jury, even if they disagreed with the decision. Further, justice can only be served if the criminal is caught; this fact is particularly interesting considering that 10% of Canadians admit to having committed a crime and gotten away with it.
The Gender Gap
The survey reveals an apparent gender difference with regard to morality and the justice system:
– Women are twice as likely to confess to a wrong doing rather than letting someone else take the blame (10% vs. 4%);
- Men are more likely to keep a wallet they found with $100 in it (14% vs.10%);
- Men are less likely to turn in a loved one who had committed a crime (75% vs. 64%);
- Men have more confidence in the system (63% vs. 55%); but are far more likely to take the law into their own hands (41% vs. 28%); and,
- Men are almost twice as likely to admit to getting away with a crime in the past (13% vs. 7%).