Life Choices, 1990

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > General Population > National > Other > Summary


The Life Choices Study was an in-depth study of Americans' beliefs and opinions on a variety of life-related issues, abortion being first and foremost among them. Additionally, euthanasia, capital punishment, and military service receive brief treatment. The survey attempts to penetrate the broader cultural currents underlying the polarizations and contradictions that characterize public opinion on these matters. The study was guided by the following questions: Why do people diverge so sharply in their views? Who are those that lie at the extremes and in the middle? What systems of moral reasoning anchor their opinions? Which appeals, arguments, and obligations have the greatest impact upon their views?

Data File
Cases: 2,174
Variables: 281
Weight Variable: WEIGHT, WT
Data Collection
Date Collected: May 7-21, 1990
Funded By
Americans United For Life
Collection Procedures
These data were collected by in-person interviews. The survey was directed by James Davison Hunter and Carl Desportes Bowman, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia. The sampling and fieldwork were conducted by the Gallup Organization, Inc.
Sampling Procedures
A sample of 2,174 adults was drawn from 300 scientifically selected localities across the nation using standard Gallup national probability sampling procedures. It is representative of the adult civilian population living in private households in the United States.
Principal Investigators
James Davison Hunter, Project Director, University of Virginia
Carl Bowman, Research Director, Bridgewater College
Related Publications
Hunter, James Davison and Carl Bowman, “Abortion in American: The Gallup Life Choices Survey”, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia, 1992.

Hunter, James Davison and Carl Bowman, “The Anatomy of Ambivalence: What Americans Really Believe About Abortion”, in Before the Shooting Begins: Searching For Democracy in America's Culture War by James Davison Hunter, Free Press, 1994.

Life Choices Survey web page: http://www.iasc-culture.org/publications_survey_life_choices_preface.php
Note 1
For the variable OWNHOME, the labels for values 2 and 3 have been lost.
Note 2
For the variables FINCOME and DENOM, the labels for all of the values have been lost.

According to the principal investigator, Carl Bowman, the ordinal variable, FINCOME, was coded from low to high values.
Note 3
For the variables, TVNAT, TVLOC, NEWSPAP, RADIO, NEWSMAG, TVNAT2, TVLOC2, NEWSPAP2, RADIO2, NEWSMAG2:

Originally, these variables were meant to be two separate questions:

Which of the following media do you depend upon the most for news and information on current events? National TV news, local TV news, a daily newspaper, the radio, or weekly news magazines?

After (above answer) which do you depend upone the most for news and information on current events? National TV news, local TV news, a daily newspaper, the radio, or weekly news magazines?

Although designed as an exclusive choice question and follow-up, in interviews the respondents were allowed to choose as many as apply. The principal investigators created dummy variables to retain the information.
Note 4
For the variables TOPPSEX, TOBESE, TRETARD, TTERMILL, TBLIND, TMISSLEG, THARTDEF:

The respondents were given a card listing all of these possible answers:
Serious enough to have an abortion
Serious enough to strongly consider an abortion
Serious enough to give a little consideration to an abortion
Not a consideration, you would definitely not consider an abortion
Don't know
Note 5
For the variables AUTEXPER, AUTVETC, AUTBIBL, AUTSCIEN, AUTRLEAD, AUTOTH:

Similarly to Note 3, these variables originate from one question that was meant to have one answer per respondent, but was treated as a "select all that apply" type of question in the interview. The original question is:

What, in your opinion is the most believable authority in matters of truth?
1. Your own personal experience
2. What you learn from television, newspapers and books
3. The teachings of scripture, for example, the Bible, the Torah
4. What science teaches us
5. What has been handed down from your parents or other authorities
6. What religious leaders say
7. Other

However, during the interviews the respondents selected all that applied, and therefore the principal investigators created dummy variables to retain the information.