A national survey on sex found that nearly all married people say they are faithful to their spouses and about three-fourths consider sex outside marriage always wrong.
"Monogamy is both widely endorsed as a moral ideal and practiced by the vast majority of spouses," concluded a report based on the survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.The report, published in the May-June issue of the Allan Guttmacher Institute's journal Family Planning Perspectives, is based on confidential surveys adults filled out during 1988 and 1989.
More than 98 percent of married people said they had been faithful to their spouses in the 12 months before they were polled.
Survey director Tom W. Smith said the results showed that "on a short-term, year-to-year basis, married couples have greater fidelity than is often assumed to be true. Extramarital relations are not accepted, and for most people, most of the time they go along with that ideal."
Shirley Glass, a marriage counselor and psychologist in the Baltimore area, said the figures on fidelity sounded reasonable.
Some of the survey's other findings are more controversial. Its definition of high-risk sexual behavior differs from that favored by many AIDS educators, and its results on homosexuality conflict with commonly cited figures from the Kinsey Institute.
Less than 2 percent of those surveyed said they had homosexual relations in the past 12 months. Kinsey's studies found close to 10 percent were predominantly or exclusively homosexual for at least three years of their adult lives.